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Blue skies, 250 walkers and help for weary hearts

FARMINGTON – Cheryl Hulsey wore on her back the names of her husband and father-in-law as she prepared to walk in Engler Park on a crisp, fall morning. She walked with the TOPS team from Desloge.

“My father-in-law died of heart failure and my husband, Sam, had three heart attacks in one day,” she explained. “But he’s out here today for the walk.”

The American Heart Walk Saturday in Farmington brought out about 250 people, many of whom were like the Hulseys and knew firsthand about heart disease.

Holden McFarland, 13, was the honorary Heart Child who addressed the walkers. He’s had two heart surgeries.

“The American Heart Association is a very important society,’ he said. “They helped me with my second surgery and maybe helped me with my first.”

Shannon Buford, Regional Director for the American Heart Association, praised those who had contributed their time and money saying he had never worked with “such giving, community-minded people.”

Barbara Hosto-Marti, of the Heart Association, said $25,000 had been brought in by the start of the walk and she expected more donations to make the total closer to $30,000.

“We have 15 total walks in Missouri and last year, they brought in $1.2 million for heart research,” she said.

Walkers were led in a warm-up by Rocky Newsom of Farmington Sports and Rehabilitation Center and Work Solutions. And then, a cannon was fired to start the event.

“I think I saw a lot of new faces this year,” said Willa Dean Meyer, co-chairman.

“We’re already thinking about next year,” said Kathy Cannell, co-chairman.

The walk was sponsored jointly by Parkland Health Center and Mineral Area Regional Medical Center.

Walkers who had survived heart disease wore red caps and led off the walk. They included two heart transplant recipients.

“Since both cardiac rehab centers were represented, we had more red caps than ever,” said Meyer. “It was just a great day.”

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