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Charleston Gearing Up For Heart Walk

Reported: Apr. 16, 2014 12:10 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 16, 2014 1:01 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Katelyn Sykes) -- The American Heart Association Heart Walk in Charleston is still months away but excitement surrounding the event is already building in the capital city.

On Wednesday the organization hosted their executive leadership breakfast to get people fired up for this year's event.

Heart disease and stroke are the number one and number four killers of Americans.

While the Heart Walk isn't until September, what it stands for has a lot of people talking.

Heart health is an important issue to Lisa Hamrick, the chair of this year's Heart Walk in Charleston. Hamrick is a heart survivor and was born with a heart defect that went unnoticed until she was a senior in college.

"Technically, I should have not have survived," she said. "Most infants that have this, it's repaired immediatly at birth."

She was able to have surgery and is standing here today. But her story with heart issues doesn't end there. Her father is also a heart survivor.

"I recall as a child sitting and watching him be wheeled out on a gurney," she said. "He has had three heart attacks and open heart surgery and stints and he is still alive today at 76 years old. So because again of the advances made and the treatment of heart disease, my dad is still here today."

West Virginia is a state known for the poor health of it's people. In early April a poll named Huntington the unhealthiest city in the country.

"Sometimes we get offended when people say that we're unhealthy or that we need to do something," said Carl Lee, former Marshall University and NFL player. "But I think if we can put our guard down we can really look at it and see how many relatives or how many friends that we're losing because of weight, being overweight, heart issues."

That's why leaders want to bring the issue to the forefront now. On Wednesday, they talked to businesses and companies and tried to spread the message of heart health importance from the top, hoping it'll get more people involved in this year's walk.

"It's right there,
said Sarah Hambley, Heart Walk Director. "It's impacting as many Americans as you can think so that's why we need to make it a priority in our health."

A priority that will save a life like Hamrick's who now gets to participate in the Heart Walk herself.

"The walk is really just a way to show for me a sense of appreciation for everything and everyone that goes into all the treatment of the heart so it means a lot," she said.

Money that's raised by the Heart Walk goes towards research and treatment, something Hamrick said helped save her life.

This year's walk in Charleston is Saturday, September 13. American Heart Association officials said they're trying to break a record this year by having 5,000 participants.



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