Kacie Torres's daughter Emma was born with a fatal heart defect. The Alhambra resident was worried for the baby's life, but with the help of open-heart surgery, the Torres family will be participating in Saturday's Heart & Stroke Walk in Pasadena to celebrate the 1 year old's health.
“My daughter is alive today thanks to American Heart Association-funded research that led to CPR and surgical techniques to repair heart defects,” said Kacie Torres in a press release from the American Heart Association (AHA), the nonprofit organization that is organizing the 5-kilometer race.
While the Torres family will be walking Saturday to celebrate their daughter's life, the Tellez family will be there to honor their son's death. Marcie Tellez, also of Alhambra, will walk in memory of her 22-year-old son who died of a heart attack in March.
Paul Tellez, Jr. – or PJ to family and friends – was athletic and healthy before he died, but doctors confirmed that his death was caused by an enlarged heart.“It has been very hard to accept this tragic loss in our family,” said Marcie Tellez. “However, as we begin to heal, we have decided to honor PJ by sharing his story.”
Heart disease is the top cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. More than 16,000 people die from heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases in Los Angeles County each year, according to the AHA, a rate 12 percent higher than the rest of a country.
The Heart & Stroke Walk is one of seven AHA walks in greater Los Angeles, with a combined goal to raise $1.75 million in the region for heart disease prevention and research. The race will also feature a health expo, information booths, and live entertainment. Register to walk or join a team at the greater Los Angeles County Heart Walk website.