By Lubna El-Gendi
Running any kind of a race, let alone a marathon, is not on my bucket list. And as someone who is allergic to exercise (doctor’s note pending), that aversion to races extends to “walks.”
Before last summer, the last time I participated in a walk was when I did the March of Dimes as a high school senior. And yet, last summer, I signed up for the DWN Heart Walk team. I can say I signed up for many reasons: I was new to DePaul and wanted to meet people, I was avoiding doing work, I had a spurt of energy at the exact moment I saw the Heart Walk email. But the truth is that what motivated me to actually sign up, and not just “think about it,” was that the walk was benefiting the American Heart Association.
Even though heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S., I never thought about heart health (or any other kind of health if I’m being completely honest), until my father passed away from a heart attack in 2010. My father was one of those people that are often referred to as “gentle giants.” At 6’3, with a full beard and deep voice, he could appear intimidating (all the guys in high school knew not to mess with me), but was one of the kindest, most positive people I’ve ever known, with a deep, unshakable faith in people.
Per Arab naming traditions, my middle name is my father’s first name and, since his passing, I have been striving to honor his name and memory. That led me to last year’s Heart Walk, where I met the wonderful women of DWN and decided to join the DWN Service & Outreach Committee. I have my dad to thank for my height and laid-back nature, and now I have him to thank for my involvement with DWN. That’s why I continue to walk in the Heart Walk, in thanks to and in honor of my father, Saad A. El-Gendi.
And hey, who can’t use a break from the office?
Lubna El-Gendi is a member of the Service & Outreach Team for the DePaul Women’s Network, and Director of Student Affairs & Diversity at DePaul’s College of Law.