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American Heart Association Hosts 2018 Heart Walk at Liberty Park

For 25 years, the American Heart Association has hosted "Heart Walks" in cities across the country.

Kristen Nielsen was at Erie's walk today to speak with survivors about why this event is so important.

Nearly one thousand people are gathered at Liberty Park for this year's Heart Walk in Erie. Walks like this one happen in more than 300 cities with an average of one million people taking part nationwide every year.

"Everyone knows somebody that's been effected by heart attack or stroke," said Dave Hopkins, chair of the 2018 Heart Walk.

Heart disease is a term that refers to a range of issues with the heart, some of which can also lead to stroke. A stroke can strike at any moment with little to no warning. ust ask Doctor Rebecca Wise, a professor at LECOM.

"About 16 months ago, I went to work on a normal day, like any other day and that's all I remember, for weeks. I had a stroke," said Rebecca Wise, stroke survivor.

But because of newly developed treatments such as the drug known as a "clot buster" the damage was minimal. Despite having to use a cane, she's pretty much back to normal, attending the heart walk for the first time to help other survivors.

These conditions know no boundaries. They effect people of every age.

"When I was a baby, I was diagnosed with a Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD.  I have two holes in my heart and then around 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Tachycardia,"said Lilly Kwitowski, heart disease survivor.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States which is why events like this that raise money for research are so important.

"It's amazing because it's such a loving cause to people like me and it's just so nice to see so many people care about it," said Kwitowski.

"It's so much fun to see so many people wearing the survivor hats knowing that they have also lived through this so, that's very touching to me but then each of them has a whole team behind them and that's really what it's about, right?  Every person has a whole team behind them helping them survive so, that's what I find the most amazing," added Wise.

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