Family history inspires Heart Walk dedication

Updated:Oct 8,2013

My Heart. My Life.
The American Heart Association's My Heart. My Life. healthy living initiative helps people understand what it means to be healthy and empowers them to take action. A Washington man shares the family history which drives his dedication to the Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk, coming up on Oct. 26 in Seattle.
Brothers - AzziemAzziem Hassan Underwood’s commitment to the American Heart Association took on added meaning this summer. As he was gearing up for a second year as a Team Captain for the Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk, his identical twin brother Azzad suffered a massive heart attack.
Their father died from congenital heart disease at the age of 53 and Azziem originally became involved in the Walk to honor his memory. “I lost my father at such a young age,” he says. “I knew that by supporting the Walk I could help other families touched by heart disease. And then my twin suffers a major heart attack with 100 percent blockage.”
He explains, “Azzad received cardiopulmonary resuscitation for over 45 minutes and his heart was shocked eight times. Only one percent of people that have this type of attack survive. He is recovering now after surgery with a long road ahead of him and he is doing better than expected. He has beaten all odds and has doctors shaking their heads.”
His family history drives Azziem’s Heart Walk dedication. He leads the KCIT Got Heart team formed by his colleagues in the King County Information Technology Department and last year was a Top Walker raising $1,123. In addition to his fund-raising efforts, Azziem posts heart-health videos on YouTube.
The Puget Sound Heart Walk marks its 20th anniversary this year. The event on Oct. 26 at Seattle Center is expected to draw more than 10,000 participants. Walk Chairman H.R. Brereton “Gubby” Barlow, president and CEO of Premera Blue Cross, leads the local fundraising campaign to its goal of $1.75 million. The Puget Sound event is one of 37 walks being held in communities across the Western State Affiliate during 2013.