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August 24, 2014 10:00 AM

Thousands Gather In Downtown Sioux Falls For Heart Walk

Sioux Falls, SD

Nothing kills more Americans than cardiovascular disease, taking one more life every 39 seconds, according to the American Heart Association.

Continuing a tradition that has spanned more than two decades, the yearly Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk was held today in downtown Sioux Falls. For a few walkers on Phillips Avenue this morning, the Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk is plenty significant.

Sonja Carlberg is a 17-year heart attack survivor. She's received five stents and has undergone quadruple bypass surgery in addition to other treatment. She said that were it not for the ongoing event, she may not be here.

Brooke Rollinger received the Lifestyle Change Award today, crediting her heart-healthy activities.

“I've done several things with work, coworkers and getting a group together. We get together in the morning, work out, about five days a week, and I try to get about thirty minutes of activity in a day, various activity, I've changed my diet, lost thirty pounds, feeling good," Rollinger said.

One of three such events held across the state, today's Heart Walk drew roughly 2500 to 3000 people. With heart disease "the number one killer" across both KELOLAND and the country, according to an American Heart Association spokesperson, many walkers today have likely seen their lives affected by the disease.

The money raised today is staying in South Dakota to fund cardiovascular research, treatment and educational outreach.

"Everyone has a heart,” Chrissy Meyer, director of corporate and media relations for the American Heart Association in South Dakota said. “Everyone does. It's the one thing everybody has in common. And as the number one killer, we know that one out of three people will die of heart disease. So there's a pretty good chance that in this crowd of 3,000 people that was here today, every single person has been touched by heart disease in some way, shape, or form, and so it's a cause that resonates with people, people are passionate about it, and we see them turn out year after year."

Meyer said Saturday that the event was progressing well toward its $210,000 fundraising goal.

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