The Lake Cumberland Area Heart Walk which was held Thursday night in downtown Somerset was about more than just walking for heart health. It was about celebrating survivors of heart disease and heart-related problems and about raising money to help the American Heart Association in conducting research.
To that end, Lisa Edwards, Heart Walk Director with the American Heart Association said that while the final tally isn’t available, as of Friday morning around $15,000 had been turned in from the Lake Cumberland walk.
Nick McManus, field operations manager with Windstream and the father of a young heart patient survivor, said that the Heart Walk was important to promote awareness.
“It’s always a good idea to have everything looked at, just double check and triple check. We didn’t have a history of any kind of heart disease in our family or anything,” he said.
Then, Nick’s son Gunner was diagnosed with an aortic coarctation, a congenital defect that causes the aorta to be too narrow. Gunner was just six months old.
For Gunner, this caused a difference in blood pressure between his upper and lower extremities.
He had an open heart surgery when he was 8 months old.
“By the grace of God they caught it. The doctors were surprised that our pediatricians caught it. They said with his condition, the life expectancy was about 30 to 35 (years),” Nick said.
While watching his son running through the fountain at the Judicial Center Plaza ahead of the Heart Walk, Nick said, “He’s three now, and you wouldn’t know anything happened to him.”
Fellow Windstream worker, lead representative for retail Beckey Smith, said she also is a heart disease survivor.
“They said it was very lucky I survived,” she explained. Last year the Science Hill resident had two stents put in after finding out she had a 90 percent blockage of her aorta.
She said the Heart Walk was a great way of promoting a heart-healthy lifestyle by getting everyone out walking. She said it also was a great way of promoting awareness.
“I’m grateful for the research [the American Heart Association] does. The stents saved my life.”
During the opening ceremony, Joey Maggard, the Executive Director of the Central Kentucky Chapter of the American Heart Association, reminded the crowd that heart defects are the number one type of birth defect. “One in 100 babies are born with a congenital heart defect,” he said.
He said also that Kentucky loses more people to heart disease than any other cause, and that 10 times more women die of heart disease than breast cancer.