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The Heart of a Gator

Guests enjoying a previous Gather in the Garden.

When the gates of heaven opened for Neil Overholtz, Saint Peter surely led the angels in the Florida Gator fight song and welcomed him to his fifty-yard line seat in the sky. But what we wouldn’t give for one more tailgate in the Swamp. 


Neil was a partner at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis, and Overholtz and spent much of his time serving as a formidable mass torts attorney. He was highly motivated by seeking justice for everyday people who he felt were victimized by enormous corporations. 

When he wasn’t preparing for cases or in the courtroom, he loved traveling with his family and going to sporting events with friends. He took every opportunity he could to show up for father/daughter dances, and parent-teacher meetings, and cheer his kids on from the sidelines.

A family history of cardiovascular disease loomed in the back of his mind, but his dedication to his clients and his family pushed him forward. He was one of those rare people who wanted to do it all, and for the most part, he did. 

But at 49 years young, time ran out for Neil. And now, it is one of the missions of the people he left behind to advocate for good heart health. I am one of those people. Neil was my friend and his family is my family. 

Neil at UF Gator Game with one of his four children, Emily

So, in his memory and in honor of the people who you love the most, I am encouraging you to do five things today:

  1. Eat and drink a little better than yesterday. You don’t have to overhaul your entire diet – just be more aware. Substitute grilled chicken for fried, or leave off something unhealthy that you usually get. 
  2. Value sleep more than you typically do. Healthy sleep patterns are critical in maintaining a healthy heart and mind. 
  3. Get any kind of exercise – move your body. Go for a walk, tap your toes side-to-side – literally, anything to move your body. Then build from there. 
  4. Get a physical exam completed by a physician or nurse practitioner to make sure your heart is in good shape and you are healthy. Prevention of stroke and heart attack can’t happen if someone isn’t checking on you!
  5. Check out CPR training located here.

Come support the American Heart Association, this Thursday, May 11 at 5:11 p.m. for “Gather in the Garden.” Gaye Overholtz and Addie Murdoch have co-chaired an event that will feature heart-healthy offerings by prominent local chefs: Darian Hernandez of Brother Fox; Ed Lordman, The Pointe; Josh Warner from The District; Private Chef Dan Dunn; James Briscione of Angelena’s; as well as David Penniman and Daniel Watts from Classic City Catering. 

The event will be at 5eleven Palafox in downtown Pensacola. Entertainment will be provided by the spectacular, 6-time Grammy nominated Ashanti Floyd “The Mad Violinist” with DJ Ramsey.

Join us and help change the statistics on heart disease and stroke in our community. For your friends and family, and especially yourself!