Heart condition survivors share their stories

PLATTSBURGH - Having a heart attack at the age of 18 has been the scariest thing Richard Adickes has ever gone through, he said.

The 21-year-old State University of New York at Plattsburgh student recalled the episode during this year's Plattsburgh Start! Heart Walk Sept. 25, at the PARC Oval.

"All I remember is I was running a race, I blacked out," said Adickes, who was honored at the event as a Red Cap Survivor. "I woke up on a hospital with tubes tied to my chest and doctors just surrounding me. I was very scared."

It wasn't until some time later Adickes learned he had suffered a massive heart attack. The news didn't make sense to Adickes, who was, by all other accounts, a healthy teenage boy.

"It came as a huge shock because I ran every day. I was always physically active. I always did the right things and I didn't understand why my body wasn't working or why I was given this burden," said Adickes.

With no family history of genetically-related heart problems, there was no clear-cut reason for his attack, said Adickes. Eventually, it was chalked up to a possible birth defect in his heart.

Regardless of the reason, Adickes' incident gave him a newfound outlook on life, he told the crowd of more than 1,300 people last Saturday.

"It makes you appreciate life a little bit more, without a doubt," he said.

The heart attack hasn't slowed him down, however. Adickes is still very active as a member of Plattsburgh State's cross country team and indoor-outdoor track program.

"I firmly believe if I wasn't a cross country runner, if I wasn't as physically fit, I would not have survived that heart attack," he explained. "So, I try to keep it up every day."

Christopher Goheens, a 9-year-old boy from Peru, also knows what it's like to go through heart-related issues. Goheens suffered from complications from hypolastic left heart syndrome last December, forever changing his life.

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