Leslie Lentz, sales leader at Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate, said she found tremendous support in the American Heart Association's Circle of Red four years ago when her husband Robbie contracted a virus that weakened his heart and put him in congestive heart failure at age 31.
Lentz said it just came out of nowhere and was the last thing she or her family ever thought would happen to Robbie, a former college athlete. Within three weeks of getting sick, he was in congestive heart failure, she said.
She was five months pregnant with their second son when Robbie got sick playing recreation league basketball. He was in good shape but the virus had attacked and enlarged his heart and put his health in jeopardy, she said.
She said quick intervention and diagnosis likely saved him from a massive heart attack on the basketball court. After a pacemaker was installed and other treatments rendered Robbie’s heart health has stabilized which took him off the transplant list for now.
“We hope to keep him off the list, but only time will tell.” Lentz said. “He gets regular follow-ups at the Texas Heart Institute and is monitored very closely. We are living with this disease like so many young men and women in this country.”
She continues to support the American Heart Association by serving on the Go Red for Women executive leadership circle and the organization’s planning committee.
Lentz is among dozens of women and men who work in the local Wal-Mart supplier community who continue to give and support non-profit organizations like the American Heart Association.
The Go Red for Women Leadership Team is comprised of 23 local women – six of whom work at Wal-Mart, and 14 women from within the local supplier community.
Eleven of the 20 directors on the NWA American Heart Association Board come from within the local supplier community, Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart as these companies lead the region’s efforts to fight this disease and teach heart heath awareness year in and year out.
Two names that continue to come up in service leadership roles for the local heart association are Allison and Scott Salmon of Springdale. This couple has spent the past 13 years with heart disease.Their only child, Sydney, was diagnosed with congenital heart failure in the first year of her life. In January 2001, Sydney, a few days shy of her first birthday, received a heart transplant.
Allison Salmon said it was scary time because heart transplants in infants were a fairly new procedure with the first successful transplant completed just five years before.
Sydney is the picture of health today, a very active 13-year-old who was also 2012 poster child for the local Go Red for Women Campaign.
"Both Scott and I have been very active in the American Heart Association because we know how important education and support is for families fighting heart disease," Allison said. "The Circle of Red is a great support effort from people who know the disease."
She and Scott, a senior vice president of sales at Kellogg’s, relocated to Northwest Arkansas in 2003 from Kansas City, after two other moves to Ohio and Michigan.
Allison Salmon said they jumped into service with the local heart association and have since worked to raise money, serve on leadership teams and Scott is the 2014 co-chair for the Go Red event and campaign.
“This mission has been very personal to me over the years and I look forward to serving as co-chair this next year,” Scott Salmon said at the Go Red event on Tuesday (Feb. 12) in Rogers.
Kellogg’s also was a signature sponsor for this year’s event and responsible for the keynote VIP guest and ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who talked football and shared his personal story of heart disease with a ballroom full of women wearing red.
“Kellogg’s is proud to partner with the American Heart Association of Northwest Arkansas in its important work to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke,” Scott Salmon said.
The main goal for the Go Red campaign is to help reduce death and disability due to heart disease in women by 20% while also improving the cardiovascular health of all American’s by 20% by the year 2020.
“Allison and I fight this challenge every day of our lives, but Sydney is the absolute picture of health today due to the important research of the American Heart Association,” he said.
Sydney Salmon wants to be a movie star or heart surgeon someday and she’s already got lots of support in Northwest Arkansas.