For the past 25 years, a soft ticking sound from inside the chest of 50-year-old Drew McCartt has been a daily reminder of his second lease on life.
To celebrate the sounds of his mechanical heart valve, McCartt is in the midst of a $40,000 fundraising campaign for the American Heart Association.
McCartt named his campaign "Thrive for 25" for both its goal of raising $25,000 for the association and for the 25th anniversary of his heart-valve transplant.
The Hilliard resident began the campaign in December with a goal of reaching $25,000 in donations by April 30.
When he surpassed that amount in early March, he decided to set a new goal of $40,000 and keep the originally scheduled completion date of April 30.
Through March 29, McCartt raised $31,200 that will be used to fund research for heart-related birth defects and educational outreach about heart disease. Donations can be made on McCartt's website, thrivefor25.org.
"Since my surgery, I've considered myself a 'thriver' rather than a survivor," McCartt said. "I'm so blessed to remain so active. I'm not just surviving, but making the most of my life while surrounded by so many great people."
Last May, McCartt, his wife, Gwen, and 16 friends celebrated his 50th birthday by riding to various central Ohio night spots in a Hummer-manufactured limousine.
"My wife arranged it," McCartt said. "As we went from place to place, we had a list of tasks to accomplish, like getting people at the bar to sing Happy Birthday together."
The "thriving" mindset gave rise to the fundraising campaign's name, aided in magnitude by the corporate sponsor McCartt recruited.
Gatorade loaned its corporate gear, product, prizes and a $5,000 contribution to McCartt's fundraising efforts for the American Heart Association.
McCartt surpassed his original goal during a weekend Facebook fundraiser in early March that netted more than $5,500. Gatorade donated prizes such as tickets to Columbus Clippers and Columbus Crew games, as well as merchandise and products, in exchange for donations.
McCartt wears Gatorade gear while cycling and running.
"Even though I am the vehicle, this fundraising effort is a success because of all the people who help me with the campaign. So many have stepped up to support the cause I support," said McCartt, who runs four to 12 miles a day, five days a week.
He has been an avid runner since he was a teenager and was a competitive runner in high school and college.
McCartt was diagnosed with a heart murmur at age 15 and was advised then he would one day need a heart-valve transplant. That day arrived June 3, 1988.
"Until then, (doctors) told me to keep doing what I was doing," he said.
Shortly after he turned 26, and having been married for only six months, doctors determined McCartt's heart had enlarged and the transplant of an aortic heart valve was necessary.
"I was a little apprehensive at first about how much I could do, but learned I can do everything I did before," McCartt said. "It's an amazing piece of technology."
Even though vast improvements have been achieved in heart valves, McCartt said his performs as efficiently as when it was inserted, although he likely must have it replaced at some point.
In 1995, McCartt was diagnosed with a heart aneurysm, but as with the valve, doctors said surgery was not immediately required.
However, when the aneurysm requires surgery, doctors will replace the aortic valve as well, McCartt said.
McCartt is a member of the American Heart Association board of directors and a partner at Event Marketing Strategies.
He and his wife have a 20-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son.