ROANOKE, Va. – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America; hundreds of people walked in Roanoke on Saturday morning in an attempt to change that.
More than 2,000 people participated in Roanoke's Heartwalk, which traveled up the Roanoke River Greenway from River's Edge Park. The event raised more than $350,000 for the American Heart Association.
The walkers included several survivors of life-threatening heart-related incidents.
"I had a widowmaker and I wasn't going to make it," said Clyde Childs, who suffered a heart attack two years ago. "I'm a little tired after this walk and my legs are aching a little, but I did it."
"I really hope that people understand that the heart and the brain really need to be taken care of," said Tim Corbett, who recovered enough from his atrial fibrillation that doctors recently took him off of his medication. "There's a lot of help in this valley for the needs that we have."
"Don't play the tough guy like I did for a year and expect it to go away with a couple of aspirin," said Chuck Jones, who underwent a six-way bypass surgery a year and a half ago.
Corbett and Jones struck up a friendship while walking, and Jones said it was an amazing opportunity to talk with someone who understood his pain.
"This journey is a struggle and a blessing," Jones said. "We're both still here, and we both just walked four miles, which last year wouldn't have worked for either one of us."
The Heartwalk also raised money in honor of Dr. Gray Swank, a Carilion Clinic cardiologist who was murdered earlier this year while on a fishing trip in Belize.