Throughout his early 40s, Peterborough resident Kevin Stewart had grown accustomed to a sporadic burning and tense sensation in his throat. At first he attributed it to old age or allergies, but in February, 2010, at age 46, the pain migrated to his chest and he immediately alerted his doctor.
He was rushed from test to test and five days later he went under for the operation. ”I had no time to think about it,” Kevin says. “The cardiologist told me after that I had one blockage of 95 per cent and a bunch of other ones at 80 per cent.”
The news that he required triple by-pass surgery came as a massive surprise. An active and healthy lifestyle had always a priority for Kevin. “I had always been an active person,” he says. But the doctors assured him that his healthy lifestyle had made a difference: the mere point of survival was Kevin’s strong heart.
After the surgery Kevin felt like a new man. He was put on a low impact walking exercise plan to maintain his health, and was required to walk for thirty minutes daily.
“I used to walk to the top of the hill and look over and think – should I try going down the hill because I known I have to get back up the other side.” Eventually, he mustered up the courage. He went for it and felt great.
This was the turning point for Kevin.
After a two-year break from his bike, Kevin dug it out from the back of his shed. His test to ride a few short kilometres turned into a 15-kilometre bike ride. “There was no pain and it was amazing,” he said enthused. A liberated Kevin had rekindled the love affair with his bike. He began to ride 30 to 40 kilometres on his bike back and forth from work each day.
This sparked his interest in the Ride for Heart last year. After a healthy recovery, Kevin is back on his bike, in full fundraising mode, and ready to take on 75 kilometres on Ride Day.
“I was going down the Gardiner and I was thinking – this is great!” says Kevin.
Kevin took his new love and capability for riding to a new level this past summer. In fulfillment of his childhood dream, Kevin went on a riding trip from Cobourg to Montreal. “I didn’t find it that hard, the worst thing I found was my butt,” he says, laughing. After travelling with his wife along the East Coast, Kevin’s new goal is to complete the trip and ride to New Brunswick.
Kevin is riding with a team for this year’s event. Some of his team members have also encountered serious heart issues. “There is something close to home here that you can relate to and we all want do something about it,” he says.
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