Local teen raises heart disease awareness
By Pam Horne, Managing Editor
Alex Wallace will spend the month of February reminding friends, youngsters and decision makers that a healthy heart begins with a healthy lifestyle.
It has been nearly seven years, since this Page High School senior was shocked to learn that her father, a beloved Franklin Cal Ripken baseball league coach, devoted husband and successful local businessman was struck by a silent disease.
“In 2007, my father passed away. He was very healthy. He ate well. He ran everyday,” explained Wallace about her late father Jeff Wallace, a Franklin High School graduate, who died suddenly at the age of 45 in 2007.
The coaches, players and board members of the Franklin Baseball Club chose to dedicate Field 5 of the city’s baseball complex at Jim Warren Park to Wallace’s memory.
He and Alex’s older brother Taylor spent many hours practicing and playing the sport Jeff Wallace loved.
Taylor, now a freshman at the University of Mississippi, and his sister Alex, preparing for graduation this spring from Page, have chartered their career paths to coincide with their father’s legacy of health and fitness.
While Wallace was in the prime of his life, he had no knowledge that a genetic heart condition threatened his life.
Renee Wallace chose to find out why her husband died so suddenly, and as Alex explains, the results of an autopsy revealed Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy.
“She wanted some clarity,” Alex said of her mom.
What the autopsy revealed has had a profound impact on Taylor and Alex.
“Taylor and I both have a 50 percent chance of inheriting this,” and although she said they both have enjoyed the experiences of youth, a future in pediatric cardiology is what they believe they’ve been called to pursue.
Alex decided to begin her effort by spreading an important message to her peers, as well as young children.
An ambassador with the American Heart Association, Alex Wallace has actively volunteered hundreds of hours to learning about nutrition and obesity issues that plague many children and teens.
“I tell my story because you don’t think about this happening to a parent when you’re in middle or high school. I think kids take family for granted.”
Posted on: 2/17/2014