At the age of 10, while walking to a neighbor’s house with a group of friends, Fabrizio Di Marco realized something wasn’t right. He was dizzy and tired, and he fainted on the lawn.
“Before that, when my friends would come over to play outside, I would get progressively more tired,” said Fabrizio. “It got to the point where I could go maybe five feet before I’d be on the ground. That’s not normal.”
After months of testing and monitoring, Fabrizio’s doctors determined that he had a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which affects his heart in two ways: One wall of his bottom-left ventricle had become thicker than normal, and the valves in his heart have trouble sending the correct signals.
Three years and two heart surgeries later, Fabrizio says he’s about back to normal, thanks to his two pacemakers and defibrillator. After his first surgery, Fabrizio’s heart had grown 100% dependent on the pacemaker, so he and his family opted to have another one installed in May as a backup.
“That was the scary part,” says his father, Matt Di Marco. “If the pacemaker were to malfunction, his heart couldn’t even beat one time without it.”
Saturday, Sept. 22, Fabrizio will bring his experience with him to the 2012 Sarasota/Manatee Heart Walk, for which he and his team of 25 will walk the three-mile course to raise money and awareness for heart disease.
Having just had his second surgery in May, Fabrizio was a little nervous to participate in the walk, but he says he’s excited to walk with his friends and help raise money for a good cause. He’s even met his fundraising goal of $500, and he expects to surpass that on Saturday.
Looking back on the last three years, Fabrizio says the best advice he can give someone who is going through a similar experience with heart disease is to stay positive and talk to someone trustworthy.
“Just keep rolling,” he says. “Try not to let it get you down, and talk to someone. Support is important.”
IF YOU GO: 2012 Sarasota/Manatee Heart Walk takes place at 8 a.m. in Payne Park, 2050 Adams Lane. Call 800-257-6941, Ext. 4916.