Heart Disease Survivor Ervin to Lead 2019 Walk

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When heart disease and stroke survivors kick off the 2019 Hilo Heart Walk on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at Hilo Bayfront Park, they’ll be led by Hilo resident and heart attack survivor John Ervin.

John Ervin (in red cap) gets a CPR lesson at the 2018 Hilo Heart Walk. Courtesy American Heart Association.

Ervin, 66, has survived four heart attacks and has been an American Heart Association Hilo Heart Walk volunteer for five years. He takes pride in leading the distribution of special red and white hats to other heart disease and stroke survivors participating in the event.

“Heart disease runs in my family,” said Ervin. “My father had three bypass procedures, my mom had heart attacks and my brother died at age 45 of a heart attack. I had my first heart attack at age 39 while I was living in Susanville, California. I owned a pizza restaurant there. My weight had climbed to 300 pounds and I had developed diabetes, both of which increased my heart disease risk. I had been experiencing pains for a while when I finally called a doctor and he told me to meet him at the hospital after I described my symptoms. Once I got there and was examined, they life flighted me to Reno, Nevada where I was one of the first 100 people to receive what was then a new procedure called atherectomy that utilizes a catheter with a sharp blade on the end to remove plaque from a blocked blood vessel.”

Since then, Ervin has undergone procedures in 2007, 2016 and again in 2017, and received seven stents.


“I volunteer my time and support the American Heart Association so that I can give a little bit back as thanks for the work that it has done to provide the medical advances that have helped me survive,” said Ervin. “I also want to make sure that those advances continue so that I can grow older and continue to spend time with my wife Kanani who I met in Puna after relocating to Hilo. She provides me with the inspiration to live and I try to share that life passion with the other survivors who I meet at the Heart Walk.”

The Heart Walk is designed to bring families and friends together to learn, share and practice lifestyle habits that will lead to healthier, longer lives free of heart disease and stroke.

Participants are encouraged to raise money to support the AHA’s work to end heart disease and
stroke and improve Hawaii island resident’s health. In addition, this year’s participants are encouraged to also bring a healthy food donation to the event to benefit clients of the Hawai‘i Food Basket. Suggested healthy food donation guidance can be at the Heart Walk’s web site.


On-site registration for the two-mile 2019 Hilo Heart Walk begins at 7 a.m. and the Walk begins
at 8 a.m. A health fair with free blood pressure screenings, a keiki fun fair, and free CPR demonstrations will run from 7 to 10 a.m. There will be a t-shirt contest for teams participating in the Heart Walk, and prizes will be awarded to the top executive fundraiser, the top three fundraising individual walkers, and the top fundraising company team.

To register online or to get more information, go online, or call Joann Yang at the AHA’s Honolulu office at (808) 377-6646.

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