Community members, leaders fight back against heart disease

Posted By: Lauren Fabrizi

Hundreds of people in the Capital City fought back Saturday night against the number one killer of men and women—heart disease.

Lauren Funke was one of them.

In August, the 18–year–old lost her father, Thomas Funke, to a heart attack while he was playing golf with some friends.

“Tom was 48 years old,” Thomas’ brother, Ryan Funke, said. “It was a shock to us all.”

Now, Lauren and Ryan want to share Tom’s story in the hopes it will prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.

“So many people pass away from this and it’s not well known,” Lauren said. “Not many people knows it’s the no. 1 killer of women. And I think to get people to know that is important.”

Lauren and Ryan were just two of about 400 community members and leaders who attended the American Heart Association’s 16th annual Lincoln Heart Ball Saturday. It’s an event aimed at raising heart disease awareness. All proceeds from both live and silent auctions will fund cardiovascular research.

“To find better and better treatment and prevention,” ball co-chair Sachi Mahapatra said.

But for Lauren, raising awareness didn’t end at the ball when the clock struck midnight. She’s part of American Heart Association’s Sweethearts, a group of high school juniors and seniors in Lincoln that spends a year doing community service focused on getting the word out.

It’s something Lauren instantly knew she needed to do after her dad passed away.

“It could happen to anyone at anytime,” Lauren said. “You should really be aware, and check your health and where it stands.”

The Lincoln chapter of the American Heart Association expects to raise about $200,000 from the ball. The next major event is the annual Heart Walk in the spring.