Drew McCartt has been hearing a steady rhythm from his chest for almost 20 years.

Drew McCartt has been hearing a steady rhythm from his chest for almost 20 years.

Thump, thump, thumpÉ

It's the sound of an artificial heart valve that saved his life.

Now, the Hilliard resident is hosting "Feed the Heart and All That Jazz," a fundraiser that netted approximately $3,700 for the American Heart Association (AHA) on April 27.

It all started when McCartt was 15.

"I was going in for a sports physical for high school and my mom was actually one of the nurses accompanying the doctors who were doing the sports physicals," he said. "They listened to my heart and heard a heart murmur."

McCartt was diagnosed with a defect in his aortic valve. The aortic valve sends blood out of the heart to rest of the body to supply it with oxygen and nutrients.

Doctors told him he would need to have it replaced before he was 30. He had the surgery 11 years later. In that time, he continued to be physical, competing in track and cross country events in high school and college.

"Nothing really slowed me down," he said.

The valve transplant occurrred at University Hospital in Cincinnati on June 10, 1988.

Now that the 20-year mark is coming up, McCartt has unveiled his "20 for 20" campaign. McCartt, about to turn 46, is trying to raise $20,000 this year for the AHA in honor of the anniversary.

The April 27 "Feed the Heart and All That Jazz" event was the first fundraiser for McCartt. He said he heard the Hilliard Davidson High School Jazz Band about a year before the event. He walked away from the performance very impressed.

It was this impression that would stick with him when he was later looking for music for the fundraiser. With Buca di Beppo and Kroger donating food and Coca-Cola donating drinks, the event came together.

But he said it would not have happened without the support of friends and family.

"I had some very close friends of mine, plus my wife, who really made this event happen," McCartt said. He said they tirelessly worked setting up the food and decorations, cleaning dishes, cleaning up, doing everything they could to support the event.

"I am absolutely indebted," he said.

He said he expected 134 and 148 showed up. "Fortunately, we had enough food for everybody," he said.

He said he works hard to raise money because it was money raised by AHA that developed the valve that saved his life.

"I wouldn't be here otherwise. My heart valve was going to give out, it was going to deteriorate," he said. "The more advancements like this that can be done, the better."

He has an exact replica of the valve that works inside his body. He uses it to show people when speaking about his cause.

"I used to think of myself as bionic," he said, looking at the valve. "It didn't really give me extra strength but it has allowed me to keep running. I still run about 30 miles a week."

He also uses that extra strength to carry on his endeavor. He said he's made it almost half-way to his ultimate goal: so far, he's raised approximately $10,000.

He said two-thirds of it has come from online donations that can be made through his Web site: www.20for20.org

He said other money has been raised from phone calls, letters and people responding by writing checks, but a lot of money comes straight through the Web site.

"You can make a secure, safe, online donation that will tie you into the American Heart Association's web site," he said.

He said his next fundraiser likely will be tied to a run or a walk, but people can donate at anytime.

"Anyone who wants to give in honor of somebody they know who is battling heart disease or someone who has died because of heart disease, I'd be more than willing to honor those people as well," he said.