YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Tri-County Heart Walk got people moving early Saturday morning at the Watson and Tressel Training Site on Youngstown State University’s campus.
The walk was part of the American Heart Association’s health and wellness efforts to get Americans active to fight against the number one and number five killers in the U.S., heart disease and stroke.
Preston Helmick is the 2016 AHA Heart Child, which celebrates a child who has survived a heart disease or defect. He is five years old and survived a congenital heart defect.
Preston Helmick and his family went to the walk to raise money, promote awareness and thank everyone for their support.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of what he went through and think of the answered prayers we’ve had and the doctors and medical staff we’ve met along the way,” said Amy Helmick, Preston Helmick’s mother. “Preston was diagnosed with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome, so the left side of his heart was underdeveloped when he was born. He’s had four heart surgeries along the way, all before he was two.”
New research and technology has made a world of a difference for him and his family.
“Just seeing the advancements in technology, and when Preston was born, the valve he has now didn’t exist. So it was just a matter of two or three years where they developed that valve, that technology, and it continues to go at that pace,” said Kevin Helmick, Preston Helmick’s father.
The American Heart Association says events like this help raise money for education and research.
“Events like the Heart Walk really help raise awareness and critical funds to promote the research and the education that will help bring those numbers down,” said AHA Communications Director Sean Dreher.
The Helmick family said they are forever grateful for all the support from the AHA and the community.
“I don’t even have any words to describe how, I mean, just the love and support that people have for our community and this little boy, it’s amazing,” Amy Helmick said.
WKBN was a supporter of Saturday’s event.