PLATTSBURGH - Wanda L. Flynn doesn't just have one reason why she supports the American Heart Association. She has several.
The Morrisonville woman has been participating in the Plattsburgh Start! Heart Walk since 2004, when she first got behind the effort as a registered nurse who took care of patients with heart disease.
"I was well aware, as a registered nurse, of the impact heart disease can have on families," she said.
But, it was also from her own family experience that Flynn knew how devastating heart disease can be, she said.
"My father had heart disease and so did my husband's mother," said Flynn.
Knowing heart disease ran in both their families, Flynn and her husband, Thomas M., were somewhat prepared when Thomas was diagnosed with heart disease in 2006.
"It was still pretty frightening to hear the news," she said.
What compounded matters for her husband, said Flynn, was that he had had a kidney transplant years before and needed a heart valve replacement due to complications with hypertension.
"It was frightening that he needed to have open heart surgery done and to have a mechanical valve inserted," she said. "For a kidney transplant patient to have to undergo open heart surgery, they're already at risk. It places the transplant in jeopardy as well as other complications. It caused a lot of anxiety."
However, her husband's surgery went off without a hitch, said Flynn, and ever since he's proudly been a participant in the Heart Walk alongside his wife as a "Red Cap Survivor"- someone who participates that is a survivor of heart disease or stroke.
"We're proud to be a part of [the Heart Walk]," said Flynn, noting the event raises thousands of dollars each year for the American Heart Association. "Heart disease really impacts just about every family. It could be a child born with a heart disease. It could be siblings. It could be parents. It could be spouses. It could be friends. It could be neighbors. Heart disease affects millions of people."