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Organizers take heart that walk funds aid research

September 26, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in Franklin County. Cardiovascular disease is second only to accidents in killing those younger than 15.

Sunday afternoon, about 500 people took a walk in the park - and around Greencastle - to try to change that.

Walkers met at Tayamentasachta Environmental Center for the 12th annual American Heart Association Heart Walk, presented by World Kitchen Inc. The goal for the walk was $125,000 for research, public education and public advocacy, according to Sharon Strike, corporate events director for the Heart Association.

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"Some people are walking for more than $1,000 in pledges from family and friends," she said. "The public doesn't connect research dollars with advances in treatments for heart disease."

Pacemakers, bypass surgery and blood pressure and cholesterol drugs all came about through research. "These have affected a lot of people in the last 20 or 30 years," Strike said.

Scientists are researching treatments such as gene therapy and cell transplantation, in which a patient's bone marrow cells are transplanted to his damaged heart muscle, causing it to regenerate, Strike said.

Artificial blood vessels, which are being tested in mice, eventually could be standard practice, Strike added. Also in the research stage is the use of vampire bat saliva - which contains anti-coagulants - as a clot buster in stroke patients.

Walkers, many accompanied by children in strollers or wagons, had the choice of a 4-mile route or a 1.3-mile bypass route, both ending at Tayamentasachta.

Jamie Reynolds, 28, served as the 2005 Red Cap Spokesperson, representing all families affected by heart disease and stroke. At 12, Reynolds was stricken with viral cardiomyopathy, which damaged her heart so severely that a heart transplant was her only hope for survival.

After a two-month wait, she received a transplant in August 1989. Life expectancy after a heart transplant at that time was five years, Strike said.

Transplantation techniques were perfected with the use of research dollars, Reynolds said. She became a registered nurse because of the impact medical personnel had on her during her illness. Reynolds said she has a strong, healthy heart and leads an active lifestyle. She and her husband, William, have two young sons.

Kelly Souders of Chambersburg, Pa., and several family members and church friends formed the Roadrunners team, which had $300 in pledges. Souders, her parents and sisters have participated for four years. This year, the walk takes on special meaning as Souders' grandmother, Martha High of Waynesboro, Pa., is in the hospital with heart trouble, she said.

Souders said the team, which included her sister, Heather Scott, also was walking for her brother-in-law, Kevin Scott of Fayetteville, Pa., who has a heart condition, and in memory of their brother, Aaron Setting, who died in a car accident at 16. Sept. 28 would have been Aaron's 24th birthday, she said.

For the first time, about 24 employees of Martin's Potato Rolls participated in the walk. The team wore shirts of the same pale yellow as the potato rolls.

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