In the Charleston area, there’s probably not a larger, more diverse group of people who are grateful for second chances at life than those who gather for the American Heart Association’s annual Lowcountry Heart Walk.
On a steamy Saturday morning at Liberty Square, a police-estimated 5,200 people — men and women of all ages and ethnicities — gathered to celebrate survival, “miracles” and raised a projected $650,000 to help more fight the No. 1 killer of Americans, cardiovascular disease and defects.
Among those “Little Heart” survivor honorees was Landyn Clark, who was given only a 10 percent chance of surviving after being born in August 2011. After multiple corrective surgeries — including two heart surgeries — his mother said Landyn is doing well.
“He’s our miracle baby,” said Clark, who came for the Heart Walk from Greenville.
Some families continue their gratitude for getting help years ago.
Seven-year-old Taylor Palfrey and five members of her family made their eighth trip down from the Upstate and Columbia to participate in the Lowcountry Heart Walk after Taylor had life-saving surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Her grandmother, Brenda Ross, said, “I tell the girls every year when we come back that we do this to help other little girls just like Taylor, and little boys, to survive and to support research to help even more survive.”
Meanwhile, the walk also focuses on lifestyle change to improve heart health.
This year’s Heart Walk chairwoman, Anita Zucker, said the event helps highlight the Heart Association’s goal to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20 percent by 2020.
“To reach this goal, we must start in our communities across the nation. Thank you for committing today to stand for positive change in our community. Today is the day we begin to walk more, eat better and live longer,” Zucker told the crowd.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare CEO and President David Dunlap praised three winners of the Heart Walk’s 2012 Lifestyle Change Awards — Lynn Collier, Dottie Connor and Rusty Matthews — who have lost 90 pounds, 215 pounds and 140 pounds, respectively.
“These are people who have changed their lives for the better are motivated by their health and want to set examples for others,” Dunlap told the crowd.
Among the top fundraising teams were the Medical University of South Carolina with $130,931, The InterTech Group with $60,440, and Roper St. Francis Healthcare with $30,791, according to Katie Schumacher, development director the Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.
Brenda Ross of Easley gives a lift to her Chihuahua, Peanut, much to the amusement of her 3-year-old granddaughter, Tyler Palfrey, during the American Heart Association’s Lowcountry Heart Walk Saturday. The family has participated in the event for eight consecutive years to show gratitude for life-saving heart surgery of Tyler’s older sister, Taylor.×
As is custom, survivors of heart attacks and strokes lead the start of the American Heart Association's Lowcountry Heart Walk. David Quick/postandcourier.com×