Despite the rainy weather, hundreds of local residents came out to participate in the TriCounty Heart Walk on Sunday, May 5th at Harriman State Park to support the programs and research of the American Heart Association. Donations are still being accepted at www.tricountyheartwalk.org.
Several red-caped “SUPER-heroes” were presented with Heart Hero capes on stage, like kindergartner Sydney Lundgren, Heart Hero and Junior Honoree for the TriCounty Heart Walk. She joined past Heart Walk Survivor Honorees to help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Heart Walk event nationally. The crowd joined in singing Happy Birthday for her 6th birthday this week as she received a celebratory cupcake.
The enemy she’s battled since before her birth was a complex congenital heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome where the heart’s left side — including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve — was underdeveloped. Luckily, it was diagnosed prenatally so preparations could be made for her birth. After multiple surgeries and ongoing treatment, Sydney is now a happy 5-year old who is her family’s Heart Hero–a survivor of congenital heart defects.
New Windsor resident, Kattya Fernandez, 2017 Heart Walk Survivor Honoree, led the warm-up for the crowd with her Zumba class participants. Fernandez is still battling heart disease with a healthy lifestyle like exercising every day and eating healthily. She will be featured on NBC’s morning TODAY Show on Tuesday, May 7th in an inspiring Mother’s Day segment.
The American Heart Association is committed to helping adults and children live longer, stronger lives through education, research and public policies. In 2013, the AHA lead advocacy efforts to pass the Pulse Oximetry Law in New York State which ensures that every newborn have a blood oxygen test before being discharged to test for possible congenital heart defects.
This year, the Association is helping to protect children by advocating for a statewide Tobacco 21 law, which is awaiting Gov. Cuomo’s signature. The law would push the purchase age of tobacco products—including e-cigarette and vaping—from 18 years old to 21, making it harder for teens to get the addictive tobacco products.
Funds raised through the event support American Heart Association programs and research. Currently, 141 researchers are being funded at a level of $33,700,319 in New York State alone. The American Heart Association is the largest source of funding for cardiovascular disease and stroke research next to the federal government.
At the event, the healthy Heart Hound Hero Award was presented to Cyclone the dog, with owner Michelle Semerano. Kitty Uhrig was awarded the Heart Walk Champion for serving as a Team Captain for 18 years.
Next year’s Heart Walk Chair, Beverly Keefer, Director of Cardiology at Montefiore St Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, was announced at the event.
The Heart Walk is sponsored locally by Healthy For Good Sponsor Orange Regional Medical Center; National Walking Day and Kickoff Sponsor NicePak/PDI; Stroke Warning Signs Sponsor, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital; local sponsors, Walden Savings Bank, Crystal Run Healthcare, Orange Bank and Trust, Crothall Healthcare, Cardiovascular Institute; and media sponsors Nicki Jones Agency, Lamar Advertising, Hudson Valley Magazine and Now 97.7.