PARKERSBURG - Although temperatures dropped, the 2012 Wood-Washington Heart Walk was a success on Saturday in City Park.
"This is our biggest fundraiser with a mission to fight heart disease and stroke," said Kevin Pauley, event coordinator. "Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in America and West Virginia and we hope to raise awareness of that and help people live healthier lives."
One in every three deaths is from heart disease or stroke, totalling almost 2,200 deaths a day.
The goal for this year's walk was $45,000, but event officials said that goal was met and exceeded.
"I think this year we will definitely meet and exceed the goal," said Kim Ward, director of the walk. "I'm not sure where we will land, but we will raise more than expected."
Each year the walk honors a survivor of cardiovascular disease. This year's event chose to pay tribute to identical twins Mia and Madi Butterfield, 2, of Parkersburg.
"They were born 10 weeks premature with congenital heart disease and two holes in their hearts (each)," said their mom Erin Butterfield. "They are doing great."
Pauley said coordinators of the event like to honor children because it shows the public that cardiovascular disease is not something only adults develop, that anyone can have it.
In April this year Kate Lison, 12, of Little Hocking, passed out and had a grand mal seizure during a basketball tournament. This event led to her diagnosis of two arachnoid cysts - cerebrospinal fluid-filled sacs that are located between the brain or spinal cord - and Long QT syndrome (LQTS) - a heart rhythm disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats, which may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure and sudden death.
"It's been life-changing," said her mother Melissa Lison. "Kate has always been a healthy child and into sports and this really surprised us."
As a result of the illness, Kate Lison has chosen to turn this negative into a positive and for the first time participated in the heart walk and started a team, Kate's Kause, to raise money.
"I just wanted to do something good," she said.
While the family-friendly event's main purpose was to raise funds for heart disease and stroke research and education, it also put focus on survivors.
"We are also here to celebrate survivors," Pauley said.
All survivors at the event wore red hats to signify who they were.
One survivor is Teagan DeMoss, who at 9 years old has participated in 10 Heart Walks after being born with a congenital heart defect known as ventricular septal defect (VSD). She had an irregular heartbeat and went into congestive heart failure at 4 months old and went into emergency open heart surgery at 6 months old, said her mother, Vanessa McComas.
This year, for the 10th anniversary of her first heart walk, DeMoss raised more than $8,200 to make her the top walker and one of the top fundraisers at the event. She had planned to raise $10,000, but was still a success, Ward said.
The walk in Parkersburg is one in three in West Virginia and included three themed areas of Create Hope, Inspire Change and Celebrate Success. Each village had a different focus with activities and educational opportunities.
This year more than 1 million walkers were expected to participate in roughly 350 events nationwide, raising funds to save lives from heart disease and stroke.