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Heart Walk a success

October 05, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Carl Spessard, 8, had his grandfathers in mind as he briskly covered the two-mile Heart Walk route in downtown Hagerstown Saturday morning.

"One of them is in the Baltimore hospital and another has heart disease, but he's not in the hospital," said the Paramount Elementary School third-grader, who said he hoped his walking would help their treatment.

Spessard, his younger brother and grandmother were among an estimated 250 participants in this year's event.

There were a few more walkers than last year, when the event raised about $25,000, said Heart Walk Chairman Jef Bohn.

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Although it will take about a week before all the donations are in and counted, Bohn said he expects this year's event will be an even bigger success than last year's event.

"Our goal is $30,000. We'll get within reason of that," he said.

The event has grown every year since it started in 1994, said Bohn, who has volunteered for the last three walks.

The walk kicked off at 9 a.m. at Municipal Stadium.

Walkers - who collected pledges based on participation not mileage - could choose to take either a two-mile route circling Rose Hill Cemetery or an extended five-mile route into the heart of downtown Hagerstown.

Spessard's grandmother, Diane Brining, said she had planned to take her grandsons on the longer route but decided to cut back en route.

"We started out to walk five, but two miles worked for us," said Brining, 59, of Hagerstown.

That was fine, said Conner Spessard, 5, who said he and his grandmother trailed behind his brother most of the way.

Like her grandson, Brining said she was walking to raise money for a cause very close to her.

Her husband, Jack Brining, has had three heart attacks, she said.

Brining said she also hoped the event would raise awareness in the community about heart disease.

"It can happen to any of us," she said.

Hagerstown resident Tom Jones said he found that out firsthand this June, when he had to have bypass surgery for heart disease, which runs in his family.

Jones , 52, said he decided to make his first Heart Walk this year partly for fun and exercise and partly to raise money for research to help advance treatment for heart disease victims.

Friends Ann Hammond, 29, of Keedysville, Jessica Feather, 20, of Fairplay, and Lisa Copeland, 27, of Hagerstown, said they walk together every year in memory of family members who suffered and died from heart disease.

Donations will go toward providing educational programs in Washington County schools and reference material in the local office as well as research into heart disease - the nation's biggest killer, Bohn said.

Cardiovascular disease kills about 954,000 Americans and stroke calls about 154,000 Americans each year, according to American Heart Association statistics.

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