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Clifton Park is home to this year’s Heart Hero

Jack James, this year's Heart Hero. Photo submitted.

Jack James, this year's Heart Hero. Photo submitted.

— Approximately 36,000 babies are born every year with a heart defect, making it the most common congenital birth defect.

The James family in Clifton Park knows this statistic all too well. Their 3-year-old son Jack is this year’s American Heart Association’s Heart Hero. He was born with transposition of the great vessels, a condition that required surgery. Thanks in part to research supported by the Association, his doctors were able to operate on him when he was just five days old. He was in the hospital for 12 days.

Jack James will be honored at this year’s Capital Region Heart Walk on Saturday, May 12, at The Crossings in Colonie. Registration starts at 9 a.m. for either a one-mile or three-mile walk. Participants can walk solo or form teams ahead of time. An estimated 1,500 walkers are expected to turn out for the event.

This will be the James family’s third walk.

The Heart Hero program has been around for 10 years, and a hero is honored at both the spring and fall walks. This year’s North Country Heart Walk will take place on Oct. 20 in Saratoga.

“It’s a community event and a great cause, said Jeff Levy, NBT Bank’s Capital Region president and volunteer chair of the 2012 Capital Region Heart Walk. NBT will have 25 walkers participating in the walk.

“We’ll all be walking to raise money to fund cardiac research, and to see that we could have a direct impact on Jack’s life and others like him is truly inspiring,” Levy said.

“By naming a Heart Hero, we remind people that heart disease can strike anyone, anytime. Nobody expects their newborn child to have heart disease," said Katherine McCarthy, senior regional director of communications for the American Heart Association. “The goal of the Heart Walk is to raise money that helps fund research to let people live longer, healthier lives, and seeing someone who was born with a congenital heart defect reminds people of where their money is going.”

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