Pelham mayor opens heart for good cause

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Despite leading an active lifestyle complete with exercise, military duty and participation the state’s first SWAT team, Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes suffered from heart disease.

Three years ago, he discovered that heredity overpowered all the other factors affecting heart disease, forcing him to undergo surgery.

Today, with four open-heart bypass surgeries behind him, Hayes said he is proud to participate in the American Heart Association’s &uot;Jail Bail for Heart&uot; event on May 27.

Hayes, along with several other Shelby County politicians and community leaders, will voluntarily go to mock-jail at the Pelham Civic Complex in order to raise money for the American Heart Association.

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe, Calera Mayor George Roy, Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and District Attorney Robby Owens will all participate in the event.

For Hayes, the medical technology fostered through organizations such as the American Heart Association represents a personal blessing.

&uot;I’m walking proof that heart research works,&uot; Hayes said.

Hayes is one of millions of Americans battling heart disease, often as a result of family medical history. According to the American Heart Association, heredity is a leading cause of the disease.

Hayes’ father died from heart disease, and his brother had two bypass heart surgeries as well.

Heart disease is characterized by symptoms including hardened arteries, poor blood circulation and high blood pressure. These symptoms lead to serious problems sometimes, such as a heart attack.

During a recent visit, Hayes recalled the heart attack he suffered while taking care of his grandchildren.

&uot;I thought I had a pulled muscle in my back,&uot; Hayes said, describing the feeling he experienced from his heart attack.

Hayes said he went to the fire station &uot;just to check,&uot; and eventually found himself in the hospital. There, he received a total of eight stints, devices used to keep arteries open.

Dr. Dale Elliott, a Shelby County cardiologist, took care of Hayes.

&uot;Dr. Elliott said you’re an absolute candidate for bypass surgery,&uot; Hayes said.

In addition to surgery, Hayes changed his diet. Told his cholesterol had risen to 48, he stopped eating ice cream. He also began taking medicine to lower his cholesterol.

The American Heart Association has a $10,000 goal for this year’s &uot;Jail Bail for Heart&uot; event.

Fifty volunteer &uot;jail birds&uot; will solicit $300 for bail money, which will benefit the American Heart Association.

Teachers at Valley Intermediate School are also participating by challenging classrooms to raise the most money to bail teachers out of jail.

The highest amount raised by a single classroom will send the teacher to jail during the event May 27.

The jail birds will arrive at the mock jail at the Pelham Civic Complex at 11:30 a.m.

Stephanie Crane of the American Heart Association is helping coordinate this year’s event. She said some volunteers, like Hayes, have experienced the effects of heart disease.

&uot;Two jailbirds called me this week and said they’d had family members affected by heart attack,&uot; Crane said.