Raising Awareness and Preventing Heart Disease in Women is the Mission of 2BigHearts Foundation

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The 2BigHearts Foundation was established in 2004 to honor the memories of sisters Gigi Clarke and Sally Czechanski, 44 years old and 49 years old respectively, who died in the prime of their lives from complications following cardiomyopathy, a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn't work as it should. The Foundation’s mission is to remember these two remarkable people by raising awareness of heart disease among women — specifically cardiomyopathy — and by generating charitable contributions to not-for-profit organizations dedicated to education, prevention, and research into heart disease in women.

The 2BigHearts Foundation was established in 2004 to honor the memories of sisters Gigi Clarke and Sally Czechanski, 44 years old and 49 years old respectively, who died in the prime of their lives from complications following cardiomyopathy, a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn't work as it should. The Foundation’s mission is to remember these two remarkable people by raising awareness of heart disease among women — specifically cardiomyopathy — and by generating charitable contributions to not-for-profit organizations dedicated to education, prevention, and research into heart disease in women.

“With the help of family and friends I established the 2BigHearts Foundation http://www.2BigHearts.com,” says Jim Clarke, beloved husband of Gigi Clarke. “The Foundation’s mission for me was borne from personal tragedy. I started the Foundation to enlighten others as to the profound ramifications of heart disease in women. I want to do whatever I can to ensure that other families will not have to endure the shock, pain and grief that I felt - and that my family experienced - when my beloved wife and her sister died suddenly and virtually simultaneously as a direct result of undiagnosed heart disease. Their deaths were avoidable, and need not have happened, if only we had known about their heart conditions.”

Their story is tragic for many reasons, not the least of which because it did not have to happen. “On Friday, June 18, 2004, we received a call from Lexington, Kentucky,” explains Clarke. “Sally Czechanski, my wife Gigi's beloved sister, had suffered a serious cardiac event while on a business trip to the area.” Sally, at 49 years of age was in critical condition, and her prognosis was grave. Shocked, saddened and wanting to be with her adoring sister and best friend, Gigi immediately arranged to be at Sally's side at St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington. She flew to Lexington within hours to be with Sally.

Then, shortly after arriving, the unfathomable happened: Gigi suffered an equally serious cardiac event, and was rushed to the emergency room for treatment at the same hospital. Her condition was also grave, and she was taken to critical care, ironically, alongside her beloved sister, Sally. Gigi was 44 years old.

Gigi and Sally were on life support at the hospital, remaining in grave condition both suffering from heart attacks, a result of cardiomyopathy. “We were assured by the Cardiologists and Critical Care Physicians attending to them that there was no conceivable way these two beautiful people would recover from such devastating cardiac trauma,” says Clarke. “With hope lost, the agonizing decision had to be made to remove them from life support. Our family said a tearful goodbye and committed Sally and Gigi to the hands of God.”

Gigi and Sally left this world on Friday, June 25, 2004, leaving literally hundreds of grief-stricken family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and loving pets. “Words are insufficient to describe the profound sense of loss,” says Clarke. “Their love lives on, however, in their individual legacies of love, friendship, caring and compassion that they showed to everyone. “

“What I want to accomplish with the 2BigHearts Foundation,” said Clarke “ Is telling the poignant story of Gigi and Sally and to spread the word about heart disease in women - and to stress that a similarly tragic scenario is completely avoidable with proper heart health education and medical intervention.

“It was determined that both Gigi and Sally suffered their cardiac trauma as a direct result of cardiomyopathy. Had we known about this condition, both Gigi and Sally could have sought treatment that might have saved their lives. As it turns out, cardiomyopathy is a silent killer. And it is completely avoidable. They experienced no prior symptoms, and were never diagnosed with any heart problems.

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Fred Yaeger
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