Cheri Glover

♥ My heart condition: Congenital Heart Defect, Heart Murmur

Training Facilitator/Model, New York

Cheri Glover was born with a congenital heart defect, known as a heart murmur. When she got older, the heart murmur caused the blood in her heart valve to flow in the opposite direction. She had open-heart surgery to correct the problem at the age of 27. After surgery, she wanted to pursue her childhood dream of modeling. Even though she was afraid, her mentor Di’Mon Brown, family and close friends encouraged her to pursue modeling. As a result, Cheri has participated in fashion shows, joined two modeling companies and was featured as a cover model for two magazines. One of the magazines is Beautiful & Dauntless and the other is She Is EMagazine.

February 2019 marked 10 years since Cheri had open-heart surgery. She wanted to commemorate the 10 years of having a healthy heart by giving back and spreading the awareness of heart disease. Many people are oblivious to what heart disease is and how many lives it impacts. Therefore, Cheri would like to educate others on this matter and share her story of being a survivor. This is why she decided to partner with the American Heart Association.

Melanie Falcon

♥ My heart condition: Bicuspid Aortic Valve and Anomalous Coronary Artery

69 News at 4:00 Anchor, Allentown

Melanie Falcon unexpectedly found herself a heart patient when she was in her 20s. She was active, healthy and never had any symptoms her whole life, but then she developed an infection in her heart and discovered it was due to a bicuspid aortic valve. She had emergency open-heart surgery to replace that valve and repair where the infection had damaged her heart. Then, seven years later, the valve wore out earlier than expected and subsequent testing found that Melanie also had an anomalous coronary artery. This basically means her artery didn’t originate from where it should, potentially causing life-threatening issues. So, in November of 2019, she had her second open-heart surgery to again replace the valve and fix her coronary artery.

Melanie is in a unique position as a news anchor to be able to publicly share her story and hopefully touch many lives. She is a strong supporter of listening to the body, advocating for one’s self, and getting medical testing done—both routinely and as needed. The AHA is a great advocate for those same things, and she’s proud to partner with them to spread awareness of heart disease and congenital heart defects.

Regina Welkie

♥ My heart condition: Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), Ventricular Tachycardia, ICD

Physician Assistant/Assistant Professor and Clinical Coordinator, DeSales University Physician Assistant Program, Coopersburg

Lifelong athlete Regina Welkie began experiencing palpitations, difficulty catching her breath and lightheadedness while exercising seven years ago. Diagnosed with benign arrhythmia, she continued to run and cycle, but the symptoms worsened to a pounding in her chest and episodes of near fainting that required her to stop and even lie down. At one urgent admission to the cardiac ICU, doctors found a scar on her heart that caused the arrhythmia. Later, after a near-fall from a treadmill when symptoms reappeared, she knew her running and cycling days were over. Further testing led to a diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a genetic condition that often presents in young athletes that can progress to heart failure. She underwent three separate cardiac ablations to prevent further arrhythmia. It was difficult for Regina to accept her doctors’ advice to restrict those activities that long defined her identity, but she’s gracefully made adjustments to slow down, take care of herself and live life with (literally) a different rhythm.

Since her diagnosis, Regina has wanted to become more involved in heart health advocacy. Her story is somewhat unique and she hopes to increase awareness of ARVC and its symptoms. As a young woman living with a chronic heart condition, she hopes to be an inspiration for others who may have a similar diagnosis or who are living with ICDs and feel they can’t continue to thrive despite limitations.

Natalie Solderich

♥ My heart condition: Coarctation of the Aorta

Teacher, Allentown

Natalie Solderich was born with a coarctation of the aorta. Her parents did not know until after she was born and had brought her home. Natalie started acting funny and her parents took her to the hospital. From there she was sent to Philadelphia and had her repair at 12 days old. She had her arch repaired again at 15 months old. When Natalie was a junior in high school she had a catheterization. Since then she has not had any other issues. She has a brother who was 13 years older than her who passed away at 10 days old from undiagnosed cardiac issues. Natalie’s son was born with multiple congenital heart defects. He had his repair at 10 days old. When he was three months old he had to have an emergency catheterization. He was later listed for a heart transplant. However, his heart remolded and he is now four with his own heart.

Growing up, Natalie never knew anyone who had a heart defect like she did. After her son was born, she met many children who also were born with heart defects. She thinks it is very important to let people know heart issues can occur at any age, even in infants.

Mischel Satunas

♥ My heart condition: Mitral Valve Prolapse, Heart Failure, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Owner, Heart Smart LLC; Advocate, Speaker, Bethlehem

Mischel Satunas was born with a heart murmur, and over time her symptoms worsened, leading to mitral valve prolapse and three heart surgeries. For over a decade she was treated for anxiety, when in fact she actually had cardiac issues.

Mischel’s decision to partner with the AHA and share her story was simple: to save more lives. Mischel’s hope and dream in sharing her story is to save others. The information she learned from AHA has helped her advocate and save her own life. Self-advocating, especially as a woman, is so important—it’s what inspired her to start HeartSmart LLC, a health and wellness advocacy community. Mischel discovered that if she went into the ER as a man, her symptoms would have been diagnosed differently. She feels there is a gender bias when it comes to cardiac conditions.

Monet Tiberii

♥ My heart condition: Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Sales and Services Coordinator, Discover Lehigh Valley and Certified Health Coach, Promessa Health Coaching, Allentown

At 10 years old, Monet Tiberii’s body didn’t allow her to do what a typical child could do. She would randomly feel an immobilizing shock in her chest, forcing her to lie down and wait out the fast heartbeats. After four years of appointments and trials, Monet was put on a heart monitor. One night after leaving church, her pulse went up to 240. After rushing into the hospital, her body gave out and she fainted. During that time, her heartbeat stopped for 9.5 seconds, and by grace she woke up. In March 2010 she had an ablation. Humbled by the entire experience, Monet made a promise to never take her health and well-being for granted. Two years after recovering, she found a huge passion for health and fitness and now helps clients with their health goals. For Monet, her heart battle was a blessing in disguise and shaped her into the woman she is today: a grateful one.

While Monet was in the hospital, there was a sweet nine-year-old girl in the next room. Although Monet was in and out for 11 hours under anesthesia, the girl is the only thing Monet remembers vividly—likely for a purpose. When leaving the hospital, the girl’s grandmother came out to give Monet her blessings and told her to go live the life she’s always wanted. Monet was so moved by her compassion—while she and her family were battling a heart tragedy, she still took the time to talk to Monet. That’s why she chose to partner with AHA, because everyone is here for each other. Monet wants people to know that in times of struggle she is there for them. When filling the room with healthy hearts, the impact is powerful. It’s important for Monet to share her story so others know that they are not alone and that people are stronger together.

Jan Chicka

♥ My heart condition: Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

Occupational Therapist/OTR/L, Whitehall

After caring for her mother through her passing, Jan Chicka realized she was having odd heartbeats and went to see Dr. Nidhi Mehta. The diagnosis was AFib. After medicine and two cardioversions failed to correct it, she knew the solution was cardiac ablation. However, her weight did not make her a candidate for the operation. At the recommendation of her surgeon and after some soul searching, Jan went to the LVHN Bariatric Center and had a gastric sleeve procedure. A year later she had the ablation, and now her AFib is gone and she’s been in normal sinus rhythm ever since. With her fixed heart, new eating patterns and healthy lifetyle, her life is completely changed. She has continued to lose weight and gain health. Instead of lying on the couch, she’s taken a home health job, walks her dogs every day, bought a bicycle, swims and feels like she can do anything!

Jan is so honored to partner with AHA. When she was diagnosed with AFib she felt like she was 80. Her mother had recently passed, so she’d lost her best friend. It frequently felt like her heart was beating out of her chest. She’d also been diagnosed with sleep apnea and it seemed like she had no quality of life. But Dr. Mehta always treated her with such calm positivity and concern, making Jan feel like she mattered. The LVHN Bariatric Center helped her set a path to heart health with the gastric sleeve. So many people supported her efforts, and Jan wants to pay that forward. If she, as bad as she was, can change her entire life (including losing 220 pounds), anyone can do it. If she can reach out and help one person believe they can do it too, she’ll feel like her journey has a future purpose beyond just her.

Teresa Wright-Johnson

♥ My heart condition: CHD - Heart Murmur, Aortic Valve Defect, Aortic Valve Stenosis and Regurgitation

Speaker, Author, Advocate, Influencer, Easton

Teresa Wright-Johnson was born with a heart murmur and an aortic valve defect. She’s endured multiple open-heart surgeries and cardiac procedures. Heart disease has been and will be her lifelong journey. In 2014, she was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Teresa has defied most of the odds thus far and believes she will continue to do so with love, faith, family, friends, proper medical care and a healthy lifestyle. Her journey has led her on a path of self-discovery and emboldened her passion to live a life of service—empowering, encouraging and inspiring others. Teresa is a college graduate, a retired parole officer and an avid learner with various trainings and certificates. Offering a respectable background in criminal justice, social services, advocacy and social justice, her life is truly divine by design. She is “A Heart That MatterS.”

Teresa chose the American Heart Association to share her story because knowledge is power and her story matters. Her life has been saved to save others. She is a beneficiary of the lifesaving research and technology funded by the AHA. When Teresa was diagnosed 46 years ago, the trajectory and the life expectancy of a child born with CHD were unknown. Today Teresa stands as a vessel of hope for children and parents. Silence is not her option. The beautiful scar on her chest speaks volumes. The AHA personifies the life she lives and it is her pleasure to embrace the mission.

Alyssa Machain

♥ My heart condition: Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT)

Product Marketing, Bethlehem

Alyssa Machain was diagnosed when she was 12 years old. It was soon after her sister began to have seizures, and underwent months of testing to determine what was going on, that Alyssa started to exhibit symptoms herself and lost consciousness. Her sister was diagnosed with catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), so Alyssa was immediately tested for CPVT as well. CPVT is a rare genetic condition that causes an irregular heart rhythm that can be life threatening. Alyssa was lucky to be diagnosed before having a major episode, because many are not diagnosed until it is too late.

Alyssa has managed her condition well throughout her life but was nervous to have children and pass it on to them. Thanks to her amazing team of cardiologists and obstetricians, Alyssa was able to safely carry and deliver her children. She now has two boys and due to the advancement of genetic testing, her older son was diagnosed with CPVT at only three months old, before exhibiting any symptoms. Alyssa wanted to work with the AHA to bring awareness to the condition and let others know that it is possible to live a healthy, fulfilling life with CPVT.

Stephanie Tomaino

♥ My heart condition: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

HR & Bookkeeping at Abraham Borda & Co. PC, Easton

At the age of 51, Stephanie Tomaino underwent double bypass surgery for two blocked coronary arteries. The cause was unknown and it wasn’t until her second heart event in June of 2018 that she was diagnosed with spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). The arteries that were previously bypassed were now open and free of disease. Fortunately, SCAD is much more on the radar than it was in 2012.

Raising awareness is one of Stephanie’s biggest priorities. She never imagined she would have heart issues, especially at such a young age. Heart disease does not discriminate. It’s so important for everyone to know their numbers and risk factors. Stephanie shares her story with anyone who will listen. Women tend to ignore their symptoms and at times get brushed off when they do seek help. It’s so important for everyone to know their body, know when something isn’t right and persist if not satisfied with their care.

Alison Conklin

♥ My heart condition: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Photographer, Emmaus

Alison Conklin was diagnosed in February 1994 after passing out during a competitive floor hockey game in gym class. Five months later, Alison and her mom were sitting in the kitchen when she told Alison she didn’t feel well and passed out. She died that day of the same genetic disease Alison had just been diagnosed with. That same scenario played out again, but this time it was Alison who collapsed, in front of her 11-year-old son. Without the lifesaving defibrillator she had implanted in 2001, she would have been dead at 35. A nurse in the cardiologist’s office looking at the ICD’s readout told Alison she shouldn’t be there right now because of the size of the event. This is the moment Alison carries with her every day. In February 2018 she traveled to Tufts Medical in Boston for a septal myectomy, a specialized surgery. Her family was with her for the very emotional experience.

Alison was so inspired by last year’s Go Red for Women lunch that she left with the crazy idea of a photo shoot telling important and inspiring stories. She was so inspired that she left a long, crazy voicemail for Dawn Fernandez, former Development Director at the American Heart Association, explaining her idea and what she wanted to do. A few lunch meetings later, the idea was put into motion. It took a little convincing for her to be one of the 12 persons profiled—Alison is not someone who loves to talk about herself, much less have the camera turned on her. But with some nudging from her husband and the idea that the project as a whole could truly be something special, she agreed.

Trevor Siegfried

♡ My wife's heart condition: Cardiac Arrhythmia Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Senior Project Manager/Engineer, Allentown

Trevor Siegfried is not sure exactly when his family’s journey started, but he’ll start with their boys. He and his wife, Becca, had two boys and wanted to add one more little one to their family. Becca experienced minor complications with her first two pregnancies and the third pregnancy had its own set of complications, ending with an emergency cesarean due to too much amniotic fluid. Becca and the baby spent some time recovering and everyone came home from the hospital healthy and safe. They were a family of five for almost three months. One day in January of 2018, Becca was taking the baby to meet some of her coworkers. She collapsed in the car with a cardiac arrhythmia due to peripartum cardiomyopathy. No one ever knew she was sick.

Trevor chose to partner with the American Heart Association for his late wife, Becca. He does this to help raise awareness about women’s heart issues, to help others to live a heart healthy lifestyle, recognize the symptoms of heart disease, seek medical help and advocate for themselves and their loved ones. He hopes that through his efforts no families will have to go through what his family did.