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Annual Heart Walk planning off and running

PLATTSBURGH - Though several months away from the Plattsburgh Heart Walk, those behind the annual event are once again getting people thinking about heart health.

The American Heart Association recently hosted its Heart Walk Leadership Breakfast at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Angell College Center, officially kicking off the effort behind the 2011 Plattsburgh Heart Walk. The breakfast, said AHA regional director Keri Mack, is a way the AHA gets community leaders excited about raising money and awareness for the October event.

"The breakfast is a kick-off leadership event for local businesses where we bring in companies and other organizations to discuss the American Heart Association and to give them information," explained Mack.

The breakfast is also an opportunity for attendees to learn first-hand about how the AHA has helped those with heart-related illnesses or afflictions, said Mack. This year, those at the event heard from Chad and Marla Garcia of Au Sable Forks, whose 18-month-old son, Luke, suffers from congenital mitral stenosis, a rare and very serious condition that can cause the heart to improperly function and even fail.

"Chad and Marla shared their story, which is very moving," said Mack.

When Luke was born, he began to show symptoms something was wrong with his health, said Mack. According to the Garcias, Luke suffered from pneumonia and was unable to gain weight, she continued.

"They didn't realize it was such a serious condition until they had taken him to the doctor and the doctor thought they heard a sound in his heart," said Mack.

The doctor thought it was a hole in his heart, so the Garcias took their son to a specialist in Burlington, Vt., and while there, received his diagnosis of having congenital mitral stenosis.

The treatment for Luke's condition is unlike how an adult would be treated, said Mack.

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