Writing Samples

From Al Gretzky’s Walk of Life
Heart & Stroke Foundation, success stories for www.heartandstroke.ca website

Wayne Gretzky’s uncle Al may have been in sales most of his career, but at 64 he’s found a new walk of life. Each morning, he’s out the door of his London, Ont. home to walk 10 kilometres. He’s been doing it since 1995, when he literally took steps to adopt a new healthy lifestyle after undergoing triple bypass surgery. Back then, Al was perhaps steps away from mortality. “My doctor said I could have gone up the next flight of stairs and dropped dead,” he says.

Al wasn’t exactly surprised. He was a pack-a-day smoker. His sedentary life caused him to be overweight. At 5’ 7”, he weighed 210 pounds. Then there was his family history: brother Ed had quadruple bypass surgery in his 40s; Walter, the third Gretzky brother, had a stroke in 1991.

Everything changed after his surgery. Al left hospital with literature on prevention from the Heart & Stroke Foundation, and he took it all, well, to heart. He quit smoking and began eating healthier: no more doughnuts, fast food and fried chicken. In their place, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, salads, and baked or broiled meat with veggies. After spotting race-walkers in a park, he decided to try it himself. Al covers the 10K in about 90 minutes, and in 2002, he even completed a race-walk marathon.

Seeing how far he’s come since his heart scare, Al says he’s grateful – for still being around, and for learning how to do it. “Because of the information out there by the Heart and Stroke Foundation,” he says, “I’m alive today.”

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