Getting pumped

Issue: Volume 97, Number 7

Posted: 30 April 2018
Reference #: 1H9iX6

An early childhood educator follows her heart to fundraise for a worthy cause, one step at a time.

From having open-heart surgery as a toddler to leading her colleagues in a fundraiser for women’s heart health, a Tauranga relief teacher has come full circle.

Tanya Birch will be participating in Jennian Homes Mother’s Day Fun Run/Walk on 13 May with 10 of her workmates from Community Kindy Parton Road in Papamoa and Beststart Educare in Tauranga.

For Tanya, who had three holes in her heart and two leaky valves at the age of three, the journey is a personal one. She was operated on by famed cardiologist and Heart Foundation Alumni, the late Sir Brian Barrett-Boyes (who performed New Zealand’s first ever open-heart surgery in 1958) and John Neutze.

“Without surgery I would not be here today and feel very lucky to be leading a normal life,” Tanya says.

“Daily life is precious and I’ve continued to be health-conscious and aware of my limitations. My parents and sisters have always been very supportive, especially my mum who spent lots of time in hospital with me as a child.”

A regular walker, Tanya routinely walks up Mount Maunganui to keep her fitness up.

“Walking has become really important to my exercise routines, if I don’t walk then my health can go downhill very quickly,” she says.

Tanya no longer takes any heart medication, although she remembers how painful her scars were during her younger years. She is now a mother herself and sees the Fun Run/Walk as a way to give back and raise awareness.

More than 13,000 people are expected at the 5km events, held across 33 locations, and Tanya encourages other teachers to register.

“This is my third year of doing the walk and it’s always a great atmosphere with all of the local mums and families taking part,” she says.

“I’m going to have the full support of my colleagues and to have them stand with me will be awesome. We’re definitely going to have some fun.”

The seventh annual nationwide event aims to raise awareness for women’s heart health while also fundraising for the Heart Foundation’s fight against heart disease.

Currently celebrating its 50th year, the Heart Foundation has invested more than $65 million to fund heart research and specialist training for cardiologists.

For a full list of locations and to register for the Jennian Homes Mother’s Day Fun Run/Walk(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 30 April 2018

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