Heart Walk, Heart Hero 5K raise nearly $50K

Wy­omiss­ing fam­ily shares story of twin sis­ters liv­ing with heart fail­ure

The Southern Berks News - - FEATURES - From Larissa Bedrick

More than 400 walk­ers and 100 run­ners turned out for the 2018 Berks County Heart Walk and first ever Heart Hero 5K at Gring’s Mill Re­cre­ation Area in Read­ing on Satur­day, Sept. 29, rais­ing nearly $50,000 for the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, the world’s lead­ing vol­un­tary or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to build­ing health­ier lives, free of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases and stroke. The fundrais­ing to­tal is ex­pected to climb as ad­di­tional do­na­tions are ac­cepted un­til Oct. 29.

Par­tic­i­pants in the 5K race took off at 10 a.m. while the rest of the walk­ers took time to en­joy other fes­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing Hand­sOnly CPR demon­stra­tions, healthy snacks, health in­for­ma­tion and ac­tiv­i­ties for kids. Af­ter the run­ners re­turned, the of­fi­cial Heart Walk open­ing cer­e­monies be­gan led by chair Amy Teal, CEO of HealthSouth Read­ing Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­tal. She in­tro­duced the story of two young twin sis­ters, Kata­rina and Ce­cilia of Wy­omiss­ing, who are liv­ing with heart fail­ure.

Their story be­gan in the sum­mer of 2016 when Kata­rina woke up with a ter­ri­ble cold. Over the next few hours, she was in and out of con­scious­ness and rushed to hos­pi­tal where staff per­formed CPR, put in a breath­ing tube and gave her ep­i­neph­rine. She was then flown to Penn State Her­shey Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal where her par­ents, Ed and Krista, found out that Kata­rina was in se­vere heart fail­ure.

While they were there, the hos­pi­tal gave her twin sis­ter, Ce­cilia, a chest x-ray as a pre­cau­tion. De­spite not hav­ing any symp­toms, the test re­vealed that Ce­cilia was also in se­vere heart fail­ure and was im­me­di­ately ad­mit­ted. Six days later, both girls un­der­went open heart surgery to re­ceive spe­cial pace­mak­ers. They were di­ag­nosed with idio­pathic di­lated car­diomy­opa­thy, mean­ing that their hearts were en­larged and weak­ened by an un­known cause.

Two years later, the girls con­tinue hav­ing reg­u­lar vis­its with heart fail­ure spe­cial­ists and take a va­ri­ety of med­i­ca­tions. While they can life rel­a­tively nor­mal lives, their jour­ney is far from over; nearly a quar­ter of all chil­dren di­ag­nosed with car­diomy­opa­thy will one day re­quire a heart trans­plant. Their par­ents’ goal is to keep them off the trans­plant list for as long as pos­si­ble and hope that bet­ter treat­ments are found.

Kata­rina, Ce­cilia and their fam­ily helped kick off the walk from the start­ing line, fol­lowed by hun­dreds of other sup­port­ers of the cause.

The Berks County Heart Walk and 5K is sup­ported lo­cally by HealthSouth Read­ing Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­tal and Stevens and Lee. The Heart Walk is part of the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion’s Healthy For Good move­ment to en­cour­age sus­tain­able healthy life­style changes. For more in­for­ma­tion about the Heart Walk, visit www.heart.org/ berkspawalk or call 484245-6262.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Heart Walk steps off at the Grings Mill Re­cre­ation Area.

The Heart Hero 5K takes off at Grings Mill Re­cre­ation Area.

Heart He­roes

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