The American Heart Association’s (AHA) Westchester Heart Walk is coming Sunday, October 1st at Kensico Dam in Valhalla. Registration for individuals and teams is open online at www.westchesterheartwalk.org. Many local companies and residents are forming teams to walk in support of the AHA’s mission to save lives from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. For some teams, walking in the Heart Walk is personal.
Gina Palma of “Team Brave Heart” is walking for her 63-year old father, John Palma, who is on the heart transplant list waiting for a new heart.
“We are walking for him and to raise awareness for this rare disease,” she said, “I would give my own heart to Dad if I could.”
She’s doing the next best thing—walking to prevent heart disease while funding lifesaving research. Her father’s heart failed more than three years ago. He felt out of breath doing routine things and it took 20 minutes to recover. He thought it was asthma or pneumonia but wa eventually diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis—a rare form of heart disease where an abnormal amyloid liver protein deposits itself in the walls of the heart, making them stiff and unable to pump normally. There is no cure, but treatments can manage the symptoms. Ultimately, his heart failed.
“Blood tests showed my kidney functions were getting worse and my breathing was worsening. Heart transplant was mentioned a while ago. I went through a barrage of tests and interviews. Now I am on the list.”
“I was near retirement, then I got hit with this. This wasn’t self-inflicted. A rare disease comes out of nowhere and you have deal with it,” he said.
Though he knows the wait is long and often an emotional rollercoaster, he feels lucky because his diagnosis was swift, his treatments are extending his life, and he has support of good friends and family. He hopes by sharing his story he will help raise awareness and remind people to get annual checkups. And he wants more funding for research.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the No. 1 killer of all Americans. In fact, someone dies from CVD every 39 seconds. The Heart Walk is the AHA’s biggest annual event, raising more than $400,000 for AHA programs and research at last year’s event. Funds raised at the Heart Walk will support research to help prevent and treat heart disease, stroke, and pediatric heart disease. The American Heart Association’s funding for research is second only to the federal government. American Heart Association-funded research has led to the discovery and development of many treatments and procedures that are now widely utilized to help save lives. They include heart bypass surgery, CPR, clot-busting drugs, stents, cardiac catheterization, and heart transplantation. Learn more at www.heart.org.
The Heart Walk is sponsored by White Plains Hospital, WMC Health/Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Fujifilm, Dr. Patrick W. Thomas and Mrs. Johanna D. Thomas, New York Presbyterian, Phelps Hospital/Northwell Health, New York Medical College, Stop & Shop, Examiner Media, The Peak, Buzz Creators, News 12 Westchester, and Westchester Magazine.
Form a team and register online to walk in the Westchester Heart Walk! www.westchesterheartwalk.org