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Heart Walk Personal for Mother after Child's Death
GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) - For Heather Amberson, the best way to honor her son's memory is to educate others about the dangers of heart disease.
Amberson's son, John Wesley Foster, was 11 years old when he died suddenly in 2006 from an undetected heart condition. Now she tries to do as much as she can to make a difference in the lives of others.
Amberson is participating in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk in Etowah County later this month.
"I'm walking in his memory," she said. "I lost a child to cardiac arrest, and I want to focus on CPR and awareness."
Amberson is an operating room nurse at Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden and will be a team captain for a group from the hospital. She also is on several committees, including one for logistics, the tribute, memorial, survivors and CPR tents.
Amberson has participated in the equivalent event in Bay County, Fla., where her family lived at the time of John Wesley's death. However, they were visiting family in Gadsden during the Thanksgiving holiday when the youngster collapsed while playing outside.
Amberson, along with John Wesley's father, Mike Foster, were involved in fundraising efforts in memory of their son soon after his death. There was an annual golf tournament in the Gadsden area, but many of the events were in Florida.
This is Amberson's first time to participate in the Heart Walk in Etowah County. Her husband, Kevin Amberson, also is participating.
"This is just my way to raise funds and awareness," she said.
The American Heart Association is an organization Amberson believes in. It is focused on educating as many people as possible on the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke, as well as ways they can be prevented, said Kristin Bray, Heart Walk specialist for the AHA.
The Heart Walk allows the association to work in companies and the community to educate, as well as raise life-saving awareness and funds.
"Volunteers are the lifeline of the American Heart Association and help us carry out our mission every day," she said. "We cannot pull off our community events without the help of passionate, local volunteers like Heather Amberson."
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, and stroke is the No. 4 killer.
Heart Walk is a great way to rally friends, family or colleagues for a life-saving cause, Bray said.
More than 20 companies and 300 participants registered to participate in the Heart Walk last year. The event raised more than $79,000.
The 2013 Heart Walk will originate in the parking lot behind the YMCA of the Coosa Valley. Festivities will begin at 8 a.m. and will include music, refreshments, a kids' zone with toys and games, health screenings and healthy living information, a dedicated survivor area, 3-mile walk and much more. The 5K walk will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Visit www.nealheartwalk.org to get involved.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
10/13/2013 8:08:37 AM (GMT -5:00)