Munzee Player of the Week: Mary Ellen Labrecque

This month Munzee has been supporting American Heart Month, from raising money via Candy Heart Virtuals to hosting a heart awareness week with Eventzee. Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men in the US, so it has been important for us at Team MHQ to help promote healthy living. This week’s Player of the Week is Mary Ellen Labrecque who is currently battling heart disease. That hasn’t stopped her from Munzeeing though, as she uses it to keep active during her down time. Mary Ellen’s story inspired hope within us and we hope it does the same for our players.

Mary Ellen is currently in the hospital so her friend and fellow Munzee player Tracy Bergmann (MARTES) has helped transcribe Mary Ellen’s responses.

unnamed-1This is my dear friend and fellow Munzeer, Mary Ellen Labrecque.  She just came home from the hospital, this week, after having a heart transplant in September 2014. She hasn’t been home in over 5 months!  Mary Ellen has a blood clotting disorder which clotted off her heart (heart attack) in March 2013.  She was in a coma for weeks, until they implanted 2 heart pumps internally in her chest, called a Bi-VAD.  This pump came out of her abdomen with 4 hoses which attached to a 40 pound pump on a wheeled cart.  This kept her heart pumping and kept her alive for 18 months while she awaited a heart transplant.  During that waiting time, she was advised to decrease her weight/BMI index, so I introduced her to Munzee, as a way to make our walks fun.  I started deploying in areas where we could walk with her “heart on a cart”.  This is how she got hooked on Munzee.  As complication would arise and I would drive her the 3 hours to the hospital, she would be sitting in the passenger seat checking her phone and capping any virtuals on our route.  Our mid way stretch break at the rest areas, truck stops and Dunkin Donuts had to have Munzees or I would deploy one for her.  I even noticed she capped 2 virtuals we placed for her on her way home 3 days ago.  She hadn’t been home in 5 months, but detoured for her “heart donor” Munzees!  She is just amazing and has survived amazing odds, obstacles and complications to survive this transplant and live for her 4 adopted special needs children.  She gets the biggest smile when she hears that “ding”.  MHQ, I thank you for contributing donations to The American Heart Association.  Also, please consider being an organ donor so that people like my very dear friend, Mary Ellen, can survive and wait times for organ transplants can decrease.

My wish is that someday there will be an artificial heart pump which is able to replace a damaged heart.  This artificial pump would be mechanical and therefore not carry all the risks of rejection.  You see, once a person has a heart transplant, life doesn’t just return to normal.  There is the constant daily battle with rejection of the heart because it is “foreign” and the body tries to attack it.  This requires large doses of steroids to be used to fight this rejection.  These steroids cause our immune systems to be suppressed, thereby making infection a huge threat.  A heart transplant is an absolute second chance gift of life, but does have complications and side effects for life.  I hope with more research, there will be major advancements made in transplants, heart pumps and aftercare.

Who are you?

Mary Ellen Labrecque

Where in the world do you live?

I live in Lewiston, Maine.  My heart hospital is in Brigham & Womens in Boston, Mass.

What do you like about Munzee and how did this help you during your whole experience with heart disease? 

I really like that Munzee got me out of the house and kept me from having to sit in front of the TV all the time.  It allowed me to exercise and lose weight.  I am not in it for the points or badges, I just like to look for them to hear that “ding”.  I just love that!  I tell everyone I ride with about Munzee because I can only cap virtuals right now.  I can tell you that I am constantly looking at the map while I am riding, looking for virtuals.  Oh, and you can’t cap them in the Life Flight helicopter.  I have even tried from the ambulance!  My goal is to be strong enough to be independent by this spring, so I can drive myself to find and cap all the Munzees around here.  There are so many now and it will be good exercise for me.

How do you feel about Munzee donating a portion of money from the sale of virtual hearts to the AHA? 

That is so wonderful and just so amazing.  What a wonderful donation that would be.  Thank you Munzee. I feel so blessed as an individual that people would think so much of others.  They have no idea how much encouragement and empowerment that provides for men, women, children and healthcare professionals’ education.  There is so much education that goes into the level of care I received.  A whole team has to be trained on the heart pumps and then a whole nursing unit of staff and then the care givers who have to be your back-up for the pump when you go home.  For me, I had to travel three hours away to a hospital which was trained on my pumps.  Even the ambulances aren’t trained.  My trained staff at home had to provide emergency care during times of complications and teach the local staff.  When I was in the local hospitals, my own 3 trained family and friend RN’s had to staff me until I could be transported to the hospital 3 hours away.  So much more education is needed.

If you know a player that should be nominated for Munzee Player of the Week, shoot us a message at and let us know just why this person is outstanding in the global Munzee community!

-Please note, this is a super active campaign. We may not be able to get back to everyone, but you’re helping to grow the list of amazing people in the Munzee community!