CINCINNATI – For Angie Garrison every step of the Heart Mini Marathon 5 and 10K walk-run on Sunday held meaning.
Fourteen years ago doctors did not know Garrison would be alive. And if she was, they were not sure what condition she would be in.
“I actually suffered a stroke in the year 2000 when I was 21 years old,” said the career service advisor at Brown Mackie College Cincinnati .
Friends discovered the woman unresponsive in her apartment a full morning after she had her stroke. Medics flew her by helicopter to a hospital where she had part of her cerebellum removed.
“At that point they didn’t expect me to recover,” she said.
But Garrison proved those doctors wrong. Much like the Heart Mini race that acts as a fundraising event for the American Heart Association, Garrison’s journey was challenging and fraught with ups-and-downs.
“It took many years of rehabilitation,” Garrison said.
Eventually, Garrison would go so far as to get her associates degree in business, a bachelor's degree in finance, and is now attending college for a master's degree in human resources.
On Sunday, Garrison’s co-workers joined her downtown to raise money for research, and remember others affected by heart disease and stroke.
Garrison spearheaded the effort at Brown Mackie to get co-workers involved with a charitable cause in the community. The American Heart Association, and Heart Mini, seemed like a perfect fit with Garrison’s own background.
“I knew it was coming up,” she said. “This is the first year I fundraised for them. I didn’t honestly know everything they do. When I went out and met with them that’s how I became passionate about it.”
In turn, Garrison’s co-workers learned more about her.
“I shared my story with everyone at my campus,” she said. “This is the first time I spoke with my co-workers about my stroke. It’s a good thing they realize how many who have been affected by stroke or heart disease. I think it’s touching to have my coworkers come up and offer to donate in my name.”
Garrison said her experience with the Heart Mini is one that has ignited a passion for more fundraising with the American Heart Association.
As with all survivors who participate in the Mini, Garrison wore a red hat at the event that raises millions of dollars and continues to grow in the number of participants each year.
“It was absolutely amazing, to wear the red cap and to be high fived as you cross the finish line,” she said. “I was in tears when that happened. It was a huge thing to get through. It’s so amazing to have people recognize that. It is an emotional thing once you get down there and realize what this is for.”