The American Heart Association has held the Heart Walk event for over 20 years in the metro area. This year, KMTV’s Craig Nigrelli emceed the event on a beautiful Saturday morning.
“The Heart Walk raises money, basically, to create heart awareness and education and research” explained Mike McDermott, co-chair of the event and president of sponsor Metro Credit Union.
Around 3,000 people came to walk at Miller’s Landing to support the American Heart Association’s goal of ending heart disease and stroke.
“Omaha really turns out, the business community really turns out. And people who have loved ones that have heart disease really turn out and support. And we were blessed with great weather,” said walker and survivor Andy Dickmeier.
Five years ago, Dickmeier and his son Joey discovered they share a hereditary heart condition.
“He's really the reason why I've committed to the Heart Association, and I hope that if and when he does need the type of procedure that I went through that the process will be much easier,” said Dickmeier.
This year, teams from local hospitals and businesses, and those in memory of a loved one, have raised almost $500,000. And donations are still coming in.
“By raising money for the Heart Walk we have an opportunity to make a difference by changing people's behavior and actually saving lives in our community,” said McDermott.
“We're here in memorial of our daughter Hadleigh. She passed away at the age of two from hypoplastic left heart syndrome. And that was seven years ago. And we joined the team; we've been doing it ever since,” said walker Curtis Griffin.
The Griffins say it’s like a family reunion.
“We see a lot of the nurses that took care of Hadleigh here, too. So it's nice to reconnect with people and some of the same groups that we walked with from the start are still here,” said Stacey Griffin.
Cardiac nurses from Children’s Hospital say it’s rewarding to join the walk and reconnect with patients.
“It's just a nice way to see all of these families outside of the hospital walls, they're healthy and running around and not connected to tubes and monitors, so it's great,” said RN Michaela Ranallo.
Around 80% of the money raised by the Heart Walk stays in the Omaha metro area to help with research and community events.