Cardiac Kids kick-off Heart Walk

American Heart Association honors a teen's fundraising efforts

A group of kids having fun on a playground at a cook-out might seem like a typical summer scene, but many of the kids at a recent luau in Niskayuna were anything but typical having overcome serious heart conditions that could have ended their lives early.

Little of those struggles was evident as the American Heart Association kicked off its local Start! Heart Walk season during a luau party at River Road Park in Niskayuna on Sunday, Aug. 8. The Cardiac Kids gathering aims to bring together local families affected by children being diagnosed with congenital heart disease.

[The event] is important in a few different ways to celebrate these little guys that we have, to give support for the families and just to have a good time," said Meredith Cohn, senior director for the American Heart Association's Start! Heart Walks. "We're focusing a little more on our community teams what we decided to do this year is to reach out more to friends and family."

Around 80 percent of the walk participants are part of a corporate team, while 20 percent are part of a friends and family teams, said Cohn. The goal is to grow participation outside of the corporate teams.

"Our friends and family teams tend to bring more of a personal touch to it," said Cohn. "They bring the passion and the reason why our corporate teams are so involved, so it is always great to put a face with the cause."

Every year the Cardiac Kids kick-off is held in a different location to gather different children and families together. The American Heart Association's walk goal for the Capital District is $560,000. This money is used to fund research to help out children like the ones affected at the event and for education on heart-related diseases.

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