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'Rock from the Heart' ties education with a concert experience to help patients

The Delano-based nonprofit works with iconic bands and top doctors to help patients with aortic diseases from diagnosis to recovery.

DELANO, Minnesota — Pete Johnson is all about sick beats. Not just the musical ones but also the ones that come from the heart. 

Johnson is the founder of Rock from the Heart, an organization amplifying the importance of improving the detection and treatment of heart valve disease and other heart conditions. "So I just really started Rock from the Heart to give people hope and to point them in the right direction for some positive stories," he said. 

Johnson got the idea, or rather had an epiphany, to combine his passion for music with education from top doctors while in a recovery room. "I had open heart surgery in 2017. I was told that I had a bicuspid aortic valve and an aneurism above that," he said. 

But all of the information Johnson came across talked about complications. "The internet is all doom and gloom, and I'm like, 'Oh, my God, I wish there was some source out there that I could find to tell me about this, about the success stories,'" he said. "So I told my wife, Amy, and I said, 'Hey, you know, once we're on the other side of this, let's do something musical to try and get people's attention.'" 

One of Johnson's favorite bands, Night Ranger, has a drummer who had a similar surgery months before. So, Johnson reached out, and the band rocked out at the first Rock from the Heart symposium and concert.

Since then, the band has played every inaugural show for the nonprofit as it branches out to different cities along with Johnson's own band. "So people can see the Rock from the Heart founder, me, playing drums post-surgery," Johnson said.

The event also offers peace of mind by connecting patients and survivors with top surgeons from across the country to answer questions in a casual setting. "Rock from the Heart is as much a feeling as it is an event," Johnson said. 

Rock from the Heart symposiums are always free to attend. They're live-streamed and uploaded to YouTube, too. 

The next symposium in Minneapolis is coming this February. The headliner is Rick Springfield, playing at the Fillmore. 

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