Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 10, 2013

Walk gets to heart of the matter

VALDOSTA — The American Heart Association hosted the Annual Lowndes Heart Walk on Saturday morning at McKey Park.

More than 300 people came out to support family members battling heart issues, and to remember those lost to heart disease.

Heart disease is among one of the top killers in the United States, and Mike Godwin, Heart Walk chairman, said, “Today’s heart walk is about raising money for heart research. It’s about celebrating a full year of fundraising our goal is $106,000, and we have two more weeks to push it over the goal, as of now we have $80,000.”

Godwin also said that this event is for the community to come together and make a difference.

Some of the residents who will benefit from the heart walk are children like Dane Turnmire, 10. Dane had a lot of support at the event, because he has had three open-heart surgeries since he was only 5 days old. The doctors don’t want to do a heart transplant until Dane is 14 years old, said Dane’s grandfather, George Mason.

Steve Turnmire, Dane’s father, said, “We support the American Heart Association every time they come through.” Steve raised the most funds for the AHA from an independent donor, at approximately $2,500.

Another local teen who will benefit from heart research is 17-year-old Patrick Sheridan. The Sheridans have been participating in the heart walk for 17 years, because Patrick was born with a congenital heart defect, said Patrick’s father, Rob Sheridan.

Many Lowndes County residents were walking to honor someone who passed away from heart health problems.

Deborah Metts was walking to honor her brother-in-law Tom Harris who passed away from a heart attack two years ago. Her son, Eli Metts, was there walking for the same reason, to honor his uncle.

Deborah Martin, Harvey’s daily bakery manager, was walking because she had two family members pass away due to heart failure. “I lost my aunt and uncle, because of congested heart failure. I had an uncle who was a vegetarian, and he died at 66, and he was a health freak,” Martin said.

Mayme Jurnigen and Caroline Dinnard were walking because they both had lost their mothers to heart issues. Jurnigen lost her mother 13 years ago, to an aneurism to the heart, and Dinnard lost hers 12 years ago to a heart attack.

Among the people walking to remember and support, there were survivors. Curtis Smith, 82, from Wellborn, Fla. Smith needed a stent placed after he had heart issues. During recovery, he came down with pneumonia, and recovery looked bleak, but his medical caretaker, Mary Anne Griffith, had him walking on a treadmill in a short time.

At the heart walk, Griffith was walking to support all of her patients, but she was walking around with Smith and his wife, Barbra.

The AHA still has two weeks to reach its goal of $106,000.

Melanie Johnson, vice president of development for the American Heart Association, will guide people through the donation process. Johnson’s email: melanie.johnson@heart.org Donations can also be made to lowndesheartwalk.org

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