On Saturday August 27th, you can take the pledge to live a healthier lifestyle while raising the dollars needed to fund life-saving research. The American Heart Association is hosting its annual Heart Walk at Falls Park and Nancy Naeve Brown chatted with a Sioux Falls woman who has every reason in the world to walk.
Cathy Byington and her grandsons 10 year old Will and 8 year old Chuck Howes are helping make posters to hang in the YWCA for the upcoming Heart Walk in Sioux Falls. Cathy is a volunteer with the Mended Hearts Program at the Avera Heart Hospital. She is also their team captain for this year's walk.
Cathy says, "I hope to bring awareness to other people because it impacts so many. I don't know of anyone with family or friends that aren't impacted by heart disease."
Cathy certainly knows a little something about it. She had open heart surgery at the Avera Heart Hospital in 2003 to replace her mitral valve only to discover less than a year later she had congestive heart failure. She started to have multi-organ failure and wouldn't be here today had she not been blessed with the gift of life. She got a heart transplant in 2007.
Cathy says, "When I started to volunteer out here it was a pay back, but the heart walk is kind of a pay it forward. The research show with strong family history of heart disease I can anticipate my kids and grandkids will have problems. I think the research that we help fund through the heart walk and American Heart Association is a tremendous way to give back. That's why it became a passion for me."
Avera Heart Hospital CEO Jon Soderholm is the chair of this year's American Heart Association Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk.
Soderholm says, "The American Heart Association has worked very very hard at putting heart disease and helping people with heart disease at the forefront in this country and we can see the effects of that by people living longer, needing less surgery and that's what we are all about."
And if you need another motivator to lace up your tennis both Cathy and Jon have lost lots weight in the last year, thanks in part, to lots of walking.
Cathy says, "I'm able to be more active since my heart transplant. I'm fortunate that way and I think exercise has contributed to that."
Jon says, "I walk every morning with my dogs. If you live at the heart hospital you can't help but learn to eat differently."
Cathy says, "It's wonderful to be able to enjoy life again."
And when life hangs in the balance like it did for Cathy not that long ago, she is going to seize every moment she can and enjoy it!
The heart walk is Saturday August 27th at Falls Park. Registration is at 8, the Walk starts at 9:00. You can walk 1 mile or 3. The Avera Heart Hospital is also selling raffle tickets to Blue Man Group. They are performing at the Washington Pavilion on September 30. The package will also include a $25 gift card to Bracco and a $25 gas card. You can get them at the concierge desk or during the Heart Walk.