The last few days have been a tough one. The area lost a woman who devoted herself to helping those with heart disease, a family lost a wife and mother and I lost a friend.

Gina Chapman, the American Heart Association Regional Director, passed away Monday after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Gina was loved by many, and for all the right reasons. Her compassion for others was unmatched, even as she struggled with her own illness.   

I was lucky to have known Gina for many years, working with her on the Heart Walk. It was so clear that it was more than a job for Gina; she truly cared about what she did. And she was so good at what she did.  Under Gina’s leadership, the Southern Tier Heart Walk raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit education programs, advocacy and research into preventing and recovering from heart disease and stroke.

Gina had such a positive attitude and to speak with her you would never know what she was going through.

The world is a much sadder place now that she’s not here, but her love and legacy will live on in those who continue her work, and in the spirit of her children.

I will miss you my friend but I will never forget you.