From left: Nicole Carey
Benjamin J. Carey, Author of Barefoot in November
Donatella Arpaia Stewart
Dr. Allan Stewart, recipient of the 2013 "Young Heart" award

On Thursday Barefoot in November was presented at the 2013 Red Ball honoring Dr. Allan Stewart of New York-Presbyterian Columbia Medical Center. Dr. Stewart received the American Heart Association's "Young Heart" award at the event, and more than 150 attendees took home copies of the book.

"This is a tremendous honor and I am humbled by the organization’s faith and confidence in me", said Dr. Stewart.

"It's a story about Dr. Stewart, and open heart surgery from a patient's perspective", said Lawrence Phillips during his address at the event. Lawrence is President of the American Heart Association Young Professionals. He spoke of Dr. Stewart's excellence and innovation, and of his undying commitment to the field. He offered kind words about Barefoot in November, and he encouraged everyone in the room to continue their dedication to the fight against heart disease.  

"The timing is bittersweet. I had a successful echo-cardiogram this morning, and my brother and I were able to attend this event together. We found out that he will be moved up to status 1b on the heart transplant list next month", said Carey.  

The Red Ball was held at Crimson in New York City. It is a fun, social affair that attracts over 300 of New York City’s young leaders from the corporate, medical, philanthropic, entertainment, fashion, social and professional communities.  It is an event that mixes business with pleasure while raising critically needed funds to support the Association’s life-saving research, education and community-based initiatives. Proceeds from the event support the American Heart Association's mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The vital funds go to  advance research relating to heart disease and stroke, develop community programs within New York City and raise awareness among men and women about the signs, symptoms and causes of heart disease and stroke.

Barefoot in November can be purchased here, on Amazon, and in bookstores. You can also support Team Heartosaurus for American Heart Association in the 2013 New York City Marathon.

The last few hundred feet of a marathon are grueling and filled with emotion. The finish line banner appears up ahead and you are overcome with emotion. Your lungs are on fire and you beg your concrete filled legs to carry you just a few hundred feet more to the finish. You are exhilarated knowing what you've set out to do and are now seconds away from completing.

Now imagine coming down the home stretch and hearing an explosion and being impaled by flying shrapnel. You are shocked. Imagine seeing runners and spectators alongside of you horrified and fearing for their lives. Bewildered, you wonder what is happening as it all plays out in slow motion in front of you.

It happened yesterday in Boston, and these are images that we will not forget. These acts of terrorism are something we are not accustomed to in America, and we will not tolerate them. Whoever is responsible will pay. We stand proud and united as Americans and we will not let these cowardly acts stop us from living life as we know it. Our hearts go out to the victims and we pray for their speedy recovery. We pray for everyone affected that you will see the sun shine again and will soon find a good night's sleep away from the demons that you have been subjected to.

First mile down and you’re pumping 
through my veins like a drug. 
I am lifted. 
I am invincible. 
Sweat drips; and the faint burn 
makes itself at home in my lungs. 
The sun sets up ahead, 
and it's horizontal light warms me as I run. 
Clouds frame little pockets of blue sky above.

Problems shrink and I see everything
through a rose colored lens.  

You numb the pain. 
I run farther and enjoy you more  
with each passing year.  
Other athletes have retired,  
but I'm still running and kicking ass.  
Running is based on the premise of  
boundless, perpetual goals,  
and achievements that can only  
be had through investment and dedication. 
There are no shortcuts. 
I run against time. 
I run against myself. 
It's about the underdog; a sport where  
unwavering dedication trumps skill and talent.
The pain is brutal and relentless,  
and the only glory is between me and God. 
I question my mortality with every  
chest pain and heart palpitation, 
but I don't stop running. 
To do so would kill my spirit and breed mediocrity.  

If I die running don't worry; 
I was just on a run to Heaven 

 -Benjamin J. Carey, Author of Barefoot in November

While it is difficult for me to relate to Carey's predicament (no major medical problems, so far *knock on wood*), his memoir Barefoot in November contains one element that draws me to all memoirs: candid honesty. Carey's words are often harsh and bitter, but they are always honest. In spite of this occasional bitterness, Barefoot in November is ultimately a success story. Ben is a survivor, and proud of it. He is also living proof that "good health" is a holistic lifestyle change and not just "diet and exercise."

I love the juxtaposition of the simplicity of his writing style with the deep issues he tackles: priorities, love, death, family.

I also appreciate that Carey pulls no punches, especially at the beginning of the book when he begins to wrestle with his illness and deal with the weight of his diagnosis. While in the waiting room, Carey has an interior monologue that I'm convinced would be expected from any young man suddenly struck with health problems: "I sat on a vinyl chair in the waiting room...wondering what the hell I was doing sitting around with a bunch of geriatrics. I didn't have anything against them, but I didn't belong there...I felt uncomfortable and out of place."

It is this voice, Ben's voice, that I appreciate. Authors like Carey, who admit their faults and lay their hearts out (pardon the expression) for all to see, regardless of possible criticism. This is what I love about memoirs and Carey has done a superb job.
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