Island mom walks for millions of ‘broken’ hearts

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This valentine is all about CHD ...
Susan Timmins arrives at the Anna Maria City Pier Feb. 14, 2017, having completed a 30-kilometer fundraising walk for the Adult Congenital Heart Association. Timmins, who took the walk to celebrate her daughter’s 30th birthday, will repeat the walk this Valentine’s Day, this time covering 31 kilometers. Islander Courtesy Photo

Hearts get broken every day — by love, attack or accident.

Some hearts just come into the world broken and such a case makes for a lifetime of special heart care.

Susan Timmins, wife and partner with Sean Murphy in the Beach Bistro, chose Valentine’s Day once again to highlight a special cause close to her family and her heart — congenital heart disease or CHD.

Last year, the couple’s daughter, Alexandra, turned 30 and Timmins celebrated by walking 30 kilometers on Anna Maria Island, every step to raise funds for the Adult Congenital Heart Association. When Alex was born, doctors told Timmins and Murphy that the chances of seeing her first birthday were slim.

Timmins pledged to walk 31 kilometers on the island this Feb. 14 to celebrate another birthday and again raise funds for ACHA.

Her route is from the northern tip of the island to the Longboat Pass bridge and back until the 31K mark is reached. Timmins says anyone who wants to join her along the way is welcome. She’s also collecting pledge money.

Donors will be treated to a beachside evening reception in April at the Beach Bistro —the couple’s most award-winning of three island eateries —as a thank you for supporting the cause.

The week of Feb. 7-14 was Congenital Heart Awareness Week.

Money raised on the walk will be used to improve care for those living with congenital heart disease. One in every 100 people are born with CHD — more than 40,000 babies a year in the United States. Based on numbers extrapolated from Canadian studies, about 2.4 million people in the United States are living with the condition.

Research into congenital heart defects, the most common of all birth defects, remains underfunded and treatment is lacking, though innovative medicine in recent decades has resulted in 85-95 percent of people born with CHD now living to adulthood according to the ADHA.

Consequently, more adults are living with CHD than children and specialized care is needed.

“The ACHA has new initiatives I am really excited about,” Timmins said. “If only the day would come when we didn’t have to do so much research and treatments were clearly defined.”

Timmins added, “There is still a gap for adult survivors and we have to find the answers.”

Timmins planned to get the walk underway at 8:15 a.m. Feb. 14 at the City Pier in Anna Maria. Last year’s walk took more than 10 hours to complete.

The link to Timmins page about ACHD is

She can be reached for more information at 941-730-4751 or

“I want my daughter and everyone born with congenital heart defects to have a long lifetime of birthdays to celebrate,” Timmins said about the cause that is so close to her heart.

And what better way to draw attention to that cause than Valentine’s Day, when hearts and heartfelt love leave us with a sweeter taste for life?

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