Heart scare motivates family

19:23, Feb 05 2013
Ripley family
LACING UP: Shane and Aniva Ripley and their children, from left, Jakeb, 6, Kaleb, 8, and Melody, 10, get ready for the Surf to City.

At just 5 years old, Kaleb Ripley had heart surgery.

Now 8, the bubbly, active youngster is getting set to take part in his first BNZ Surf to City alongside his family on Sunday and he can't wait.

Kaleb's mother, Aniva, said the family was motivated to take part for several reasons but key to it was their association with the Heart Foundation - which receives a portion of every entry fee into the event - and their bid to become more active as a family.

"We wanted to have more time together, the kids really enjoy the outdoors and it's also about creating memories," she said.

Kaleb was just 5 when a scan revealed a hole in his heart. It came as a shock to his family, as the healthy youngster went from being a normal young boy to needing heart surgery at Starship children's hospital in Auckland.

"There is a family history of heart disease, but he was just so well, then we found out he had a hole in his heart. We got great support from so many people and groups and we really appreciated it," she said.


Now, Kaleb enjoys an active lifestyle, competing in athletics alongside his siblings, Melody, 10, and Jakeb, 6. The trio, along with their parents, Aniva and Shane, are still deciding whether to cycle or walk the BNZ-sponsored 12km from Oreti Beach to Queens Park on Sunday.

The Ripleys will also be joined by members of their church, C3 Church Invercargill.

Heart Foundation Southland heart health advocate Nicola Mason said the Ripley family were setting a wonderful example.

"People of Pacific Island ethnicity have a comparatively increased risk of heart disease to non-Pacific New Zealanders, but getting active as a family is such a fantastic way to reduce the risk of heart disease," she said.

The BNZ Surf to City is co-ordinated by Sport Southland and is being held on Sunday and includes a 12km fun run, walk or cycle, the ILT Foundation 6km event, the AMI Kids in the City and the 2.5km Challenge-sponsored event for people with a disability. Entries can be made at Sport Southland, BNZ, Allan White Sports, Wensley's Cycles and AMI.

For more information see www.surftocity.co.nz.

The Southland Times