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Eric Vaiksnoras, Ohio

My name is Eric Vaiksnoras, and my life has been significantly impacted by cardiovascular disease. Five months after my son was born, my 27-year-old wife Julie died suddenly from a cardiac arrest caused by a heart disease called cardiomyopathy. This was a devastating loss, and left me as a 30-year-old young widower and single dad. 

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Over the course of these past eight years (Julie died in 2004), I have been involved in numerous things that have helped to promote heart health. I earned my Bachelors in Physical Education from KSU in 2005, and then continued on to earn my Masters from KSU in 2008 in Health Education and Promotion. My schooling further ignited my passion for health. I acquired valuable skills that have helped me to share with kids the importance of physical activity and health awareness – knowledge that will keep their hearts and minds active and capable! 

Throughout my grad program, I was involved in various tobacco related issues. I worked as an Ohio Tobacco Quit Line Coordinator, promoting a free service that helped anyone who wanted to quit tobacco. I also served on the Smoke-Free Kent Campaign, where I advocated for a smoke-free city ordinance prior to the state of Ohio going smoke-free. Tobacco use has a devastating impact on heart health, so I found my days working on tobacco-free issues to be very rewarding.  

I've also devoted a tremendous amount of time to another thing I'm passionate about--shrinking grief. I wrote a memoir titled Honey I Shrunk The Grief! a young widower discovers love will find a way, and it’s available as a free online book. Grief places an enormous strain on the heart and body, so I feel honored to share my story with others in the hopes that it can provide some comforting relief. I continue to refuse to be discouraged, because there is so much hope in this world. Even in the midst of darkness and despair, love will always find a way!

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