“By helping others, you help yourself.”
That is how Mike Brown describes his journey of taking his passion for adventure and challenge and turning it into philanthropy. Mike’s most recent adventure is benefiting Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, as Mike created an individual fundraiser to honor three specific doctors who saved his life.
“When I was 50, the phrase ‘by helping others you help yourself’ stuck with me, and I decided to celebrate my birthday with a fundraiser,” he explained. Mike subsequently took on adventures for his milestone birthdays every five years to raise funds for a nonprofit. This year, to mark his 65th birthday, Mike, his brother and a friend mountain-biked across Scotland, from Aberdeen, the easternmost point of the country, to Ardnamurchan Point in the west. Together, they traversed approximately 260 miles across the Scottish highlands, over mountains, through farms and climbed about 25,000 feet, often with 10 to 15 percent grades, over eight straight days.
It was challenging, but thanks to his cardiology care at Lahey, Mike was physically prepared. His medical journey began in 2009 as he was training for the Cape Cod Bay Challenge (an event he co-founded), a 34-mile stand-up paddling event from Plymouth to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Mike experienced intermittent burning in his chest, which he initially blamed on indigestion. Eventually, he found his way to Lahey for a cardiac catheterization, where a 99 percent arterial blockage was discovered and stented by Thomas Piemonte, MD.“That was the beginning of my relationship with Lahey,” said Mike. Since then, he has been under the care of cardiologist Marizio Diaco, MD, whom he describes as “kind of an angel in my life for the past 10 years.”
“The cardiology group cares — the type of caring that’s just hard to find in today’s world,” Mike continued. “To find caring like that is a real gift, and I feel very lucky.” In 2015, Mike experienced similar chest pain, but this time, he needed open heart surgery immediately. That was two days before his 62nd birthday. When Dr. Diaco assured Mike that he would get back to his normal activities, he viewed bypass surgery as a great birthday present. “Lahey cardiology is second to none, and their care has had a major impact on me,” Mike said.
Three years later, he turned his birthday adventure into a fundraiser for Lahey in the summer of 2018. Mike, a retired realtor, turned to his friends, family and former colleagues to raise thousands of dollars in honor of Dr. Diaco, Dr. Piemonte, Giuseppe Sarno, PA, and Christina Williamson, MD, his surgeon. “I wanted to raise money to recognize them,” he explained. “The biking in Scotland was hard. Really hard. But I kept thinking of Dr. Diaco and the Lahey team and how lucky I am.”