SIOUX FALLS, SD -
This weekend, you can lace up your walking or running shoes and hit the trails to help save lives.
The American Heart Association Start Heart Walk in Sioux Falls is this Saturday. And a South Dakota man knows that without the dollars raised, he wouldn't be here today.
What he thought was just a doctor's visit to get a refill on some seasonal allergy medication turned into much, much more for Jason Askew.
"She said, 'Jason, you know you have a heart murmur?' I said, 'Well, you've never told me that before.' And she said, 'Well, I've never heard it before either,'" Askew said.
A murmur is the sound the blood makes as it passes through a valve in the heart. Often there's no reason to be alarmed, but that wasn't the case with Askew.
An ultrasound showed a valve in the then 35-year-old's heart wasn't closing correctly. It's a serious problem he never knew existed.
"I don't know exactly when it happened but I do know in April of 2006, I did not have a heart murmur and April 2007, I did," Askew said.
Even though doctors said the fix didn't need to be immediate, for his family and his piece of mind, Askew felt otherwise.
"You start really questioning anytime you go for a walk or you go for a run, pretty much the whole month of May that year I could not bring myself to go out and jog," Askew said.
Askew, the Avera Sports Institute Manager, has always led an active lifestyle and never felt sick. Still his doctors knew he needed open heart surgery to fix the problem.
"If I hadn't had allergies, you know I don't even want to venture guess on how things would have turned out because that's literally probably what saved my life," Askew said.
American Heart Association research developed open heart surgery. It's one reason Askew says walking in this weekend's event is so important.
"I realize in a hurry how much the AHA plays into assisting the physicians and continuing to look at new ways of performing surgeries and even on a bigger scale keeping people healthy," Askew said.
This Saturday, you can help raise money to support medical research and surgeries like the one Askew had at the American Heart Association Start Heart Walk in Sioux Falls
. All the festivities, including live music and a 5K run, begin at eight in the morning at Falls Park.
© 2010 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.