Local couple make heart health a family affair

Heart-shaped chocolate boxes on every shelf. Red roses at every florist. We all know February is traditionally the month for love and all things heart-related. February also reminds us to take care of our heart. It is American Heart Month—an annual celebration to encourage people to join the battle against heart disease.

Jake and Kate Fisher are fighting that battle locally. Jake serves as an executive cabinet member for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women. This campaign raises awareness among women about their No. 1 killer—heart disease, which claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined. The cornerstone luncheon of this campaign takes place Valentine’s Day, at Armature Works, in Tampa.

Kate is a member of the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball Cabinet. The Heart Ball celebrates efforts to build a foundation of health in the Tampa Bay area so that everyone can live longer and healthier lives. The 2020 Heart Ball takes place April 25 at the Tampa Marriott Water Street Hotel and Marina.

The couple juggle their dedication to philanthropy with demanding careers. Jake is the CEO of Palms Pasadena Hospital while Kate is a partner at Deloitte, in the auditing division. In addition, they have four children ranging in age from seven to 13.

Jake’s career in health care is what started the couple’s volunteer efforts on behalf of heart health. “In the health care sector, one of our missions is to drive awareness of different conditions and risk factors,” he says.

“Many think about heart disease as a man’s disease, but it’s the No. 1 killer of women. We obviously have a lot of women patients, and I have Kate, and my mom, my mother-in-law and two daughters. Anything we can do to raise awareness and help with research is very valuable.”

Jake’s involvement inspired Kate to join the effort, as a member of the Heart Ball team. “I didn’t realize until joining that we have one of the largest balls in the country,” she says. “It’s amazing, learning more about the cause and hearing the stories of survivors.”

Heart disease has directly affected the Fisher family. Jake’s father had a major heart attack about 12 years ago and recently suffered a stroke. He is doing well today. The couple says those events inspired them to promote healthy heart habits for their family.

“Physical activity is a big thing in our family,” Kate says. “Our kids participate in soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis. Every night and every weekend, there’s something. We struggle like a lot of families with nutrition, but we stress healthy eating and really try to get our kids to think about it.”

The couple has also involved their children with the American Heart Association. The family participated in the 2019 Heart Walk and their oldest son also volunteered to help set up the event.

They attended a Christmas event for “little heart heroes”—children affected by heart disease. “We want our kids to know how important heart health is,” Kate says. “It’s affected our family, so we want them to know as much as possible about prevention, healthy living and giving back to the community.”

This Valentine’s Day, the couple will be attending the Go Red for Women Luncheon. They hope to find a quiet moment together at some point to celebrate the holiday although, this year, Jack likely won’t be cooking. “When we were dating, I tried to impress Kate by cooking a pasta dish with shrimp,” he says and laughs. “I am not a cook and the food wasn’t great but I put in the effort.” ♦

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