Team P-Lo: Raising Awareness about Heart Disease
by Jane Kendall
Photography (top) by Christian Lee
When Mandy Lohrenz and her husband Patric got up and went to work on the morning of October 31, 2015, little did they suspect it would be their last day together…forever. They had moved to Houston, Texas in the fall of 2014 for a job promotion and were pretty much settled in and enjoying their lives. They were excited about planning a trip to Maui and moving forward with plans to adopt a child when they returned.
Everything changed late that afternoon. Mandy received a call from Patric, who said he wasn’t feeling well. He complained of numbness in his face, heaviness in his chest, and he said he had felt something “pop” in his chest. Mandy picked him up from his office and immediately drove him to the nearest emergency room. As soon as they arrived, Patric was whisked away for a CT scan of the chest. That was the last time Mandy saw her beloved husband alive. Within a few minutes of arriving she heard the dreaded “Code Blue” alarm. Patric had died from an aortic dissection, a rare condition that causes a tear in the aorta, the main artery branching from the heart that carries oxygenated blood to all tissues in the body. He was a mere 33 years old. His only risk factor was hypertension, which had been under control.
Mandy planned to stay in Houston after Patric's death, but she was literally too shattered to function. She and Patric had been married just five years, and he was the absolute love of her life. Her family helped her move back home to Walterboro, S.C., where most of them live within a few miles of each other. She is incredibly grateful for the role they played in helping her heal. She eventually went back to work in her former job as an unemployment specialist. Her co-workers also surrounded her with love, encouragement and support.
Mandy has begun sharing Patric’s story in an effort to raise awareness about heart disease. “As Patric’s wife, his legacy starts with me. To continue his legacy, I have to be around to tell it. That’s why I overhauled my diet and developed a new sense of responsibility for my health.” She has lost 52 pounds since his death, and intends to lose 30 more! Still in her thirties, Mandy has many healthy years to look forward to. Despite two autoimmune diseases she lives with every day, she does not use them as excuses or let them get in the way of her health and fitness goals. Even if she can’t fit in exercise on any given day, Mandy and her co-workers take a 15-minute walk around the parking lot.
In 2016, on the six-month anniversary of Patric’s death, Mandy created Team P-Lo (Patric’s nickname), comprised of family, friends and co-workers, and participated for the first time in the Palmetto Heart Walk. With each other’s encouragement and support they all completed the 5K route. “For me, the Heart Walk is all about honoring my husband’s life. This year’s event will be my second Heart Walk, and Team P-Lo will be coming every year to raise awareness and carry on Patric’s legacy,” she said.
Countless Americans owe their lives to the research funded by the American Heart Association (AHA), which has brought medical breakthroughs, along with the AHA’s guidelines, training, advocacy and programs. Heart disease and stroke are the number one cause of death in South Carolina for both men AND women. The American Heart Association educates lawmakers, policy makers and the public, and advocates for changes to protect and improve the health of our communities.
The goal for the 2017 AHA Palmetto Heart Walk is to raise $100,000. They are almost halfway there!
There will be more than 300 Heart Walks this year across the country. The Palmetto Heart Walk has options of a 1-mile loop and a 5K route for walkers of all abilities. Come join the Heart Walk, give Mandy a high-five and make the commitment to being healthy for good. Remember LIFE—for Mandy it’s Patric’s life— is a great reason to get out and walk!
Annual Palmetto Heart Walk
April 29, 2017
Check-In 8:30 AM | Starts 9:30 AM
Shelter Cove Community Park
40 Shelter Cove Ln, Hilton Head, SC 29928
Register for Free
You can also register onsite the day of the walk.
Everyone who raises $100 or more will receive an official Heart Walk t-shirt or backpack!
Carla Raines, AHA Development Director