Sioux Falls, SD
From the looks of him you'd never guess, Jeremy Aylward has battled a serious heart condition for the majority of his life.
"It started at the age of 12 when I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, I had lived with it for 12 years and didn't know anything about it until my 7th grade sports physical," Aylward said.
By time Aylward was 18 he had undergone two open heart surgeries.
"All I have been through really has shaped me into who I am today and yeah it was a struggle but I didn't ever struggle that much it was hard at time being an adolescent and being diagnosed and being different from everyone else," Aylward said.
The goal of the heart walk is to shed light on a disease that has taken the lives of so many.
"A lot of people aren't really aware that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. And one in three people will die of heart disease to kind of put that in context, one in nine women will die of breast cancer," American Heart Association Director, Chrissy Meyer said.
This year's walk will help educate people on the importance of managing weight and cholesterol, and blood pressure while raising money for the cause.
We do have such a high risk population and a significant need, Meyer said. That need extends beyond KELOLAND'S largest city.
"If you are in one of the outer portions of our state and maybe a three to four hour drive from the nearest "cath lab" you are well outside that 60-90 minute window that we need to protect your heart muscle if you do have a heart attack," Meyer said.
Aylward's three-month-old daughter, Nora was born with a very small ventricular septal defect.
She actually ended up with two defects one identical to mine and one that's a small hole in her heart, which should correct itself. But doctors say Nora's VSD will self-correct between six to 24 months and she will be able to live a normal life along with her dad.
"I went back to working out staying healthy and just living a healthy life style so optimism and prayer and a lot of support had really what has gotten us through," Aylward said.
Opening ceremonies are at 8:45 a.m. this Saturday at Falls Park West on 9th & Phillips Avenue. Those who attend will be able to walk either one mile or three miles beginning at 9 a.m.