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Meet the Heart Heroes

October 12th, 2011

 

The American Heart Association's Heart Walk returns to Exploration Park this Saturday!

The American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. Walk and Run, also called the Heart Walk, is this Saturday at Exploration Park. Two “Heart Heroes” for this event are Sabrina Congioloso and Melanie Baldwin and their families, whose lives are affected every day by cardiovascular disease. Heart disease and stroke are the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and Nevada’s No. 3 and No. 4 killers.

Congioloso’s two young sons both were diagnosed with pulmonary stenosis shortly after birth and had open heart surgery. The boys, now almost 7 and 9 years old, are thriving, happy children, but will continue to need special care, medical treatment and/or surgeries and diligence throughout their lives.

“My hope is that continued heart and stroke funding and research will help advance medical technology for procedures to be less invasive so children won’t have to suffer as much every time they need intervention,” Congioloso said. She sits on the Heart Walk’s Community Teams Committee and is the team captain for “Moms With Heart,” a new AHA pediatric cardiac research fundraising program. “There are no guarantees for my sons’ health or their future. The only thing that keeps us going is the research and funding provided by the American Heart Association.”

Sabrina Congioloso tells her story at the 2010 Heart Walk.

Baldwin has participated in research studies and had five invasive surgeries for her heart defect since she was 3 years old, including an aortic valve replacement at 26 weeks of pregnancy for a needed porcine valve due to a blood clot. She continues to defy the odds, benefiting from continued research and development. She was told not to get pregnant, but was able to through research and a medication change and is the proud mother of a 21-year-old daughter.

“I’m basically one of those kids born with a heart defect who was lucky enough to benefit from advancing technology and grew up to lead a pretty normal life,” Baldwin said. “If not for the American Heart Association’s research and fundraising efforts, I would not have experienced the quality of life I enjoy.” She added her daughter’s choice to enroll in the College of Southern Nevada’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography Cardiac Program was influenced by her medical condition.

Baldwin participated in the Heart Walk in Reno and now in Las Vegas. This year she’s her team captain. She also volunteers in the event’s Survivor Café, with her mother and daughter, and the AHA’s Go Red For Women Campaign and its Mended Hearts support program.

Melanie Baldwin is joined by her daughter Kate as she tells her story.

Funds raised at the Heart Walk help place up-to-the-minute research in doctor’s hands, explore groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research, and relay life-saving information to those who need it most.

The Heart Walk features a 5K and one mile walking route and a timed 5K run. Festival activities also include a free Kids Zone, free health screenings, entertainment, food, information, special promotions from Mountain’s Edge builders, and more.

Event day registration is available for $40 on a first come, first serve basis by 8:30 a.m. Key times are: 7 a.m. – registration opens, 8 a.m. – opening ceremonies, 9 a.m. – 5K run, 9:15 a.m. – 5K walk, and 11 a.m. – lunch. The other activities continue until noon.

The 2011 Heart Walk is nationally sponsored by SUBWAY restaurants, and locally sponsored by Findlay Toyota, NV Energy, Mountain’s Edge, Freeman, Medco, Nevada State Bank and South Point.

For more information or to donate, volunteer or register, contact lacy.ekert@heart.org or visit LasVegasHeartWalk.org. The event site at Exploration Park is located at 9600 S. Buffalo Dr., just south of the Mountain’s Edge main entrance at Buffalo and Blue Diamond Road.