ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Sunday, the American Heart Association hosted the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run to help spread awareness. The event featured hands-on CPR training, blood pressure screenings, and first-hand accounts from people affected by heart disease.
“We get to live out our mission today,” Kaweeda Adams, Board Chair of Capital Region American Heart Association, said, “Which is building healthier lives to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.”
Over 1500 people attended the event to run and walk in honor of those who have struggled or continue living with a form of cardiovascular disease. Organizers say a part of spreading awareness is sharing that it can happen at any age.
Jen Duncan’s daughter Emma, is this year’s, Heart Hero. She said her pregnancy with Emma was normal.
“Shortly after she was born, the doctors told me she had a heart murmur. But to not worry about it [since] lots of kids have murmurs,” she said.
Emma was later set up for a cardiologist appointment but needed emergency care…
“We never made it to that cardiology appointment because I knew something was wrong,” Jen Duncan said. “She was crying, not eating, and her breathing was very wavered… So I took her to the emergency room at Albany Med.”
That’s when the family discovered she had several heart defects that required treatments. But now Emma is 13 years old and is this year’s, Heart Hero. Emma says she is happy she is feeling much healthier, so she can do what she loves, like ride her bike and dance…
“I feel happy to be normal again,” she said.
And she also wanted to share advice with other kids about how they can stay heart-healthy.
“Eat healthy foods, get exercise, [and] stay active,” she said.
The event raised over $430,000, and Emma’s father, Shawn Duncan, says events like these are a great tool for families who are affected so that they can get together and support each other.
“[To] just stay strong and bring awareness,” he said. “There’s lots of hope; there’s lots of support from the community. We’re just so proud that Emma was asked to be a heart hero this year so that she can help bring awareness.”