DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Thousands of people laced up their sneakers Sunday for the 15th annual American Heart Association Broward Heart Walk.
An estimated 10,000 participants walked 5K at Nova Southeastern University to support and promote healthy living in South Florida.
Families, friends and coworkers all teamed up for the fundraising event.
Jackie Guzman participated with her family to help spread the word. The mother of three survived two heart attacks at the age of 30. She said she wasn’t educated about heart disease and ignored the symptoms.
“I want for everyone to be aware of the symptoms and the possibilities of what can happen regardless of the age,” said Guzman. “I was young, I was fairly healthy, I was going to the gym and sure enough I almost lost my life.”
Vanessa Walker participates in the walk every year for her brother Owen, who suffered a deadly heart attack while playing basketball 7 years ago.
“He was 22, we never thought a heart attack would have happened to him but that’s what happened and because of that we make it our duty now to educate that it can happen to you,” said Walker, who created the Owen Walker Jr. Foundation in her brother’s memory. “You have to be prepared, you have to listen to your body, you have to make sure that you are healthy all around.”
The Broward Heart Walk is designed to raise money for the American Heart Association research but also aims to promote physical activity and heart healthy living.
“Raises funds that stay here in South Florida to benefit research at the local hospitals,” said event co-chair Rick Case of Rick Case Automotive Group. “The American Heart association also goes to companies and trains the employees about heart healthy diet and exercise and so on– so it’s helping reduce heart disease.”
The goal is to raise one million dollars for heart disease and stroke, the number one and number five killers in the US, respectively.
“The real key here is to emphasize to people that they really actually have to do it,” said co-chair Dr. Edward Savage with the Cleveland Clinic. “They have to get out there, they have to do things, they have to participate in activities. Then think about other things like controlling their blood pressure, taking their medicine, listening to their doctor and then thinking well it’s not the other guys that this can happen to, it can also happen to me.”
The Broward Heart Walk donation page will remain open for a few weeks following the event, you can contribute by clicking here.