Blair County Ballpark to field American Heart Walk

The twelfth annual Blair County American Heart Walk will take place Sunday, Sept. 28 beginning with registration at noon. The goal for this year’s walk is $28,000. The event will be broadcast live by WPRR Radio.
“American Heart Walk 2003 will have some changes,” observed Anthea L. Germano, communications chairwoman for the American Heart Association’s Blair County division. “This year we’re starting the event at the Blair County Ball Park.”
Prior to the walk, the Curve batting cages will be open along with games and face painting for children. For walkers raising $500 or more, massages, courtesy of The Computer Learning Network, will be provided.
Following warm-up exercises by Curves from Cresson, survivors of heart attack and stroke, wearing special T-shirts and carrying balloons, will walk the first lap around the ballpark and will then be joined by the Heart of Gold Twirlers of Hollidaysburg, under the direction of Marsena Fickes. Together, they will lead the other walkers in the three-mile course. The walk will end at Lakemont Park with a post-event awards ceremony and refreshments. Park rides will be open free of charge to walkers and music will be provided by WPRR Radio. First and second place trophies, courtesy of Shields’ Trophy, will be awarded to the company having the most walkers and the individual raising the most money. A bicycle, donated by Natural Gains, will also be presented to the individual raising the most money.
The Survivor Day Sponsor for the 2003 Blair County American Heart Walk is The Heart Institute at Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital. Supporting sponsors are The Altoona Chapter of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and Cardiology Associates of Altoona.
National sponsors are Nutrisoy and Subway.
The spokespersons for this year’s event are Tom Kruise and Landon Fickes.
On Nov. 26, 2002 at the age of 46, Tom Kruise suffered a heart attack. Within ten minutes of his arrival at Altoona Hospital’s trauma center, Kruise went into cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated and moved to the critical care unit. During preparations for a cardiac catheterization, he suffered a second heart attack and underwent angioplasty and stent procedures. Ten weeks later, a cardiac catheterization at Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital revealed narrowing in the stent.
In February 2003, Kruise traveled to Washington, D.C. Doctors at the Washington Hospital Center discovered calcification and plaque in the sent as well as additional blockages in his left anterior descending vessel. While at Washington Hospital Center, two more stents were inserted. His doctors told him that he would one day undergo cardiac by-pass surgery.
Kruise, a surgical technician, enrolled in the cardiac rehabilitation program at Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital. While in rehab, he learned to cope with the emotional strass that often follows a heart attack and discovered nutritional and lifestyle changes. Along with his wife Edie, he enjoys eating low-fat meals that he prepares at home. A grandfather of two boys, he has come to understand what is important in life.
“When you go through a life-threatening situation where you come close to death, you realize that material things and those little things mean absolutely nothing. It’s the people that support and love you who are the most important things in life,” said Kruise.
Landon Fickes, who served as the 2002 American Heart Walk spokesperson, was born in January 1992. In the hours just before his birth, hospital personnel told his mother Marsena that fetal heartbeat could not be heard. Landon was delivered by emergency C-section and, accompanied by his father Ray, was transported to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. At Children’s Hospital, Landon was diagnosed with corrected transportation of the great arteries, a congenital condition in which the positions of the pulmonary artery and the aorta are reversed. Also detected were a third-degree heart block, tricuspid valve regurgitation and several holes in his heart, which, except for one, later closed on their own. Children’s Hospital cardiologist Lee Beerman determined that surgical intervention for the tricuspid valve regurgitation would take place when Landon was older and stronger.
Since last year’s American Heart Walk, Landon, a sixth grader at Charles W. Longer elementary school, was the first patient to receive the latest state-of-the-art pacemaker at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. He attended a heart camp in Butler, sponsored by The American Heart Association and Children’s Hospital in June of this year where he participated in wall climbing, archery, martial arts, canoeing, golfing and while fishing, caught a 16-inch bass. The physician-run heart camp is held yearly at no cost to patients and their families and is also staffed by junior counselors and nurses.
Landon, who enjoys swimming and trips to the Pittsburgh Zoo with his brothers and sister Joshua, Anthony and Courtney, plays drums in his school band.
“Success stories like Tom’s and Landon’s are what the American Heart Association is all about,” said Cathy Wilt, American Heart Walk committee chairwoman. “Without American Heart Association dollars, medical advances such as CPR, the automatic defibrilator, pacemakers and cardia by-pass surgery would not exist. The American Heart Association is the leading non-governmental authority on cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Every dollar raised by the association is a dollar well spent in the effort to save lives.”
The American Heart Walk is a major fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Walkers collect flat donations of which 75 percent remain in local counties for worksite, schoolsite and community programs. In Pennsylvania, proceeds from state-wide American Heart Association fundraisers are centered on cardiovascular research and education in such teaching institution as The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Geisinger Medical Center and Children’s Hospitals of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
For more information about the Heart Walk and other American Heart Association activities, call the Blair County Division office at 949-3160.