Hundreds in Iowa City walk to fight heart disease - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hundreds in Iowa City walk to fight heart disease

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Andrew Samuelson looks and acts like an ordinary six year old, but he has had to overcome extraordinary challenges.

"It was hard to understand, and hard to comprehend everything that was happening," said Shawn Samuelson, Andrew's dad.

Andrew was born with a heart defect.  At just three weeks old, he had to undergo open heart surgery.  Two years later, he went under the knife again, this time after the formation of scar tissue around his surgical site.

"He loves to play, he loves to be active, and we've just tried to not hold him back in any way," said Tonya Samuelson, Andrew's mom.

Samuelson has been problem-free since then and by all accounts has a healthy heart.

Saturday morning, he and his family walked to raise money and awareness for heart disease.

While his condition was congenital, and therefore unavoidable, many others can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by walking a half hour every day.

"You see a lot of families here, a lot of parents with their kids out in the park walking today.  That's what it's all about is getting people active and getting people moving," said DeAnn Montchal, chief of operations of the University of Iowa's Heart and Vascular Center.

Kim Pattee was one of more than 1 thousand people that took to the pavement in Lower City Park Saturday in Iowa City, raising more than $100,000 for research.

Pattee walked in honor of her mother-in-law Dorothy from Garrison, who died from complications of a stroke in 2008.

"She was a really unique woman who supported everybody in their life and what they wanted to do, and if she could, she would have been out here walking too," Pattee said.

On this Mother's Day weekend, the Samuelsons are thankful to have a healthy 6-year-old, and are hoping to help other families who are dealt similar challenges.

"He loves to be a little boy, and that's what we're so thankful for," Tonya Samuelson said.

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