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Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk Seeking Team Captains

Contributors and participants are needed for the Oct. 9 fundraiser for cardiovascular research

The 2010 Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk is seeking team leaders to participate in a walk to promote healthy lifestyles and cardiovascular research.

Rayme Elliott is organizing a team in honor of her son, Logan. The 1-year-old died last October from a blood infection after complications with heart surgery.

“It really has nothing to do with me; it’s all about keeping (Logan’s) memory,” Elliott said. “I’m so afraid he will be forgotten because he was here for such a short time, and I just can’t let his memory go, too. This is how I can possibly save the next (child).”

Elliott says she will participate in the Heart Walk so others hopefully won’t have to face the fear of losing a loved one. The 5k walk, sponsored by the American Heart Association, gives individuals or teams a chance to build community relations while raising money for heart disease and stroke research — Santa Barbara’s No. 1 and No. 2 killers, according to Eric Thompson, senior communications and marketing director for the American Heart Association.

“It all goes to research,” he said. “A lot of people don’t comprehend that every dollar raise does make a huge impact.”

Elliott said she not only hopes to help further cardiovascular research, but to change the standards of medical procedure. She supports mandatory blood screens every three weeks after heart surgery to prevent what happened to Logan, and she wants doctors to pay closer attention to a baby’s heart when administering an ultrasound to ascertain heart defects. But most of all, she said, she wants to help families who shared her experience.

“(I want) to be that shoulder for that other mom that’s maybe not as strong, who can’t get out of the house, who can’t find anybody,” Elliott said. “That was the hardest part, because nobody knows what to say to you. My goal is to not let another family hurt. We want to fix the broken hearts.”

Brett Anderson of Anderson Financial Solutions in Santa Barbara also has been hurt by heart disease. His 53-year-old father died of a heart attack, and his mother died of a stroke. The Heart Walk volunteer said he felt compelled to form a team.

“I’ve been heavy all my life,” Anderson said. “When I passed age 53, I came to the realization that my dad did not live very long, so I made a change.”

Bank of Santa Barbara President Andy Clark is forming a team because of personal health issues. Despite eating healthy and exercising for most of his life, the Santa Barbara native said he was diagnosed with 100 percent blockage in one artery and 80 percent in the other. He needed quadruple bypass surgery to survive.

“If I had a heart attack, it would’ve been fatal,” Clark said.

Doctors say walking an hour a day can add two hours to your life.

The Start! Santa Barbara Heart Walk, which will take place Oct. 9 in Chase Palm Park, has raised more than $62,000 with a goal of $180,000, Thompson said. About 175 walkers and 52 teams are registered, with a goal of 500 and 90, respectively.

To contribute or register, click here or call 805.963.8862.

Noozhawk intern Alex Kacik is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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