“Growing up I always heard stories about my dad’s experience,” Beth explains. “My grandparents, my parents and the rest of the family have always donated to the American Heart Association, because it saved his life. He celebrated his 67th birthday on April 4.”
Beth has always been aware of her family history of heart disease. “I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she explains, “and decided to step up my physical activity earlier this year. I looked into marathon training programs but never really got enthused. But, when I received an email about Start Training, it just clicked. I could train for a marathon AND raise funds for the American Heart Association as a tribute to my dad. That got me going.” Beth lives in Hayward, CA, and is currently training for the Western Pacific Half Marathon on May 5 in Fremont. She is pictured below with her training team.
Her donation page on the Start website features a picture of her father as the poster child. Beth says she is “hoping that folks will donate $10 for every year of life my father has been given. And as a stretch, make it $20 for every year.”
Thinking back to his childhood, her dad Merlyn Rosenbush of Mesa, AZ, recalls many challenges. He says, “I was born a ‘blue baby,’ as they called it then. They weren't quite sure what the problem was or how to fix it. Until I was about five years old I was too weak to do much of anything and had to be carried if I had to walk more than a short distance.” Merlyn, pictured here with Beth, spent years going in and out of hospitals while doctors determined his pulmonary valve was the problem. It was fixed when he was six-years-old. At the time, doctors said the repaired valve was expected to last some ten years. But Merlyn surprised them all – he did not require surgery again until 1995, when it was finally replaced.
Beth explains that the American Heart Association provided support throughout her dad’s childhood battle with heart disease. “He had breakthrough surgeries during that time,” she says, “and he thinks that must be why he became the poster child. He just remembers his parents received a letter inviting them to a luncheon. His mother made him a suit. And when they got there, he was called up on stage with his doctors.”
“It’s easy to understand why the American Heart Association is so important to my family,” she adds.