Thousands of people hit the streets of Gulfport today to battle a killer. The enemy is heart disease. Supporters of the American Heart Association joined forces for the annual heart walk.
A sea of supporters bolt from the starting line at 20th Avenue and Highway 90. They're drawn together by a common cause. Many have personal heart stories to share.
Teri Berger has walked this walk for several years. This is her first since the attack.
She said, "I have a family history of heart disease, but you always think, not me, I'm too young, I'm healthy, I take care of myself. But you just never know do you?"
The early steps are brisk down scenic Second Street, but the mid-morning sun tests the stamina of each participant. Walkers spent the morning beating the heat to help others beat the odds.
Funds raised for heart research do make a difference.
Al Hoskins said he's alive today because of people like this who helped raise money through this even.
He proudly displays the mechanical heart that kept him alive for a year and two weeks while he awaited a heart transplant.
He said, "Well the message is there's a story of hope out there. And I'm part of that story. I'm supposed to be dead three years ago, and I'm alive because of medical research, which is funded by the American Heart Association."
Herbert Hayes has a good rhythm going. An artificial heart valve helps him keep pace with the others.
He said, "Dr. Sangani went in and did heart surgery. Give me a heart valve, replaced the heart valve. It's been five years now and I'm still kicking."
Heart walkers will make certain those facing heart troubles have supporters they can count on.
Saturday's event raised more than 200 thousand dollars for the American Heart Association.