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Heart Walk set for Saturday

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Nancy Henry | for the Daily Courier
Fayette County Heart Walk will be held Saturday at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus. From left are (seated) Tricia Desvarro, division director for the American Heart Association in Fayette County; heart survivor spokesperson Thomas Broadwater, vice president/senior financial adviser, United Brokerage Services Inc.; (standing) 2013 Heart Walk co-chairpersons Edward Franczyk, market president of United Bank, and his wife Judy Franczyk.

Hundreds of people will lace up their walking shoes and take steps against heart disease and stroke on Saturday at the Fayette County Heart Walk again being held at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, in North Union.

“The 2013 American Heart Association Fayette County Heart Walk is in its 22nd year and it has been held at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus for all but two of those years — it is a perfect venue to hold a community event like the Heart Walk,” said Tricia Desvarro, division director for the American Heart Association in Fayette County.

Registration will be held at 9 a.m. followed by opening ceremonies at 9:45 a.m. The Heart Walk begins at 10 a.m.

“This year we have over 68 teams raising funds to try and help us reach our goal of $65,000,” said Desvarro.

The event is under the leadership of Ed Franczyk, market president of United Bank and his wife Judy Franczyk.

“Each year more than 300 participants come out in support of the life-saving work of the AHA. We honor our survivors and remember those who have passed away from heart disease and stroke. It is also the mission of the Heart Walk committee to raise awareness about the seriousness of heart disease and stroke in our community. Heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans and stroke is number four. These statistics hold true for our fellow Fayette County residents and underscores the importance of supporting the American Heart Association,” said Desvarro.

As teams gear up to raise funds to fight heart disease and stroke, Tom Broadwater of Uniontown would like readers to be made aware of his story.

Broadwater was diagnosed with heart disease two weeks before his youngest son, Andrew, died of osteocarcoma (bone) cancer. Broadwater had gone to the emergency room due to a persistent cough. He was told he had an upper respiratory infection, had some tests, was given a prescription and was sent home. Two days later, after more tests, he was told he needed a pacemaker implanted immediately. He was taken by ambulance to Allegheny General Hospital where a team of surgeons told him that he not only needed a pacemaker, but he needed an aortic valve replacement and a mitral valve that needed to be repaired.

On Aug. 1, 2005, Broadwater had open heart surgery and spent the next 18 months recovering, including more surgeries.

Today, Broadwater feels blessed to have had the cardiac team at AGH as well as having the ongoing support and love of his family and friends.

“I call them our angels here on earth. I know they were sent by God to help us,” said Broadwater who is paying forward that help by sharing his story and participating in this year's American Heart Association Fayette County Heart Walk.

“I'm not sure you ever completely overcome heart disease. It's for this reason the Heart Walk is held so that all people suffering from the effects of heart disease and stroke can look forward to a healthier future made possible by continued research and education with funds raised from the local Heart Walk,” added Broadwater.

He will join company leaders, team captains, families, survivors and Heart Walk volunteers participating in the Heart Walk Saturday.

The Fayette County Heart Walk focuses attention on heart disease and stroke.

Heart Walk — one of the American Heart Association's premiere fundraisers — is an initiative to get Americans physically active. This year, more than 1 million walkers will participate in more than 350 events across America. Teams and individual walkers are welcome to participate. Registration and sponsorship information is available by contacting Desvarro, at the Fayette County division of the American Heart Association at or 800-209-1151, extension 3471.

The American Heart Association Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by SUBWAY® and Jenny Craig. Local sponsors include United Bank, Shop'n Save, Save-A-Lot, Uniontown Hospital, Bill's Bit Service, Davies Ford and Davis & Davis Law Firm.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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