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On Sept. 8, hundreds came out to support the American Heart Association at the Racine-Kenosha Heart & Stroke Walk at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Somers.

Walkers and runners came out to help raise more than $50,000 that will be used to fund local educational programs, groundbreaking research, advocacy efforts and more. Attendees walked either one or three miles, and were able to learn hands-only CPR, take home a few heart-healthy recipes and snap some fun healthy selfies.

Kelsey Gumm was honored as the Heart Walk Hero and shared her story with the crowd. Gumm was a petty officer in the United States Navy who was misdiagnosed for 10 years after passing out often during workouts.

Finally, in 2014, Kelsey experienced an intense blackout. She couldn’t feel her arms and legs, and her body turned gray. She was then diagnosed with a rare heart condition, left ventricular non-compaction. All of the passing out that she’d been experiencing was irregular heart rhythms that could have killed her. Within a few months of that doctor’s visit, Gumm was medically retired from the life that she had known and loved in the military, and had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in her chest.

Today, Gumm is healthy and has found a new passion in bicycling. She loves sharing her story in an effort to inspire others and raise awareness that heart disease can happen to anyone. The American Heart Association highlights stories like Gumm’s to emphasize the importance of fundraising and to bring awareness to heart disease, our nation’s number one killer.

Be sure to save the date for the 2019 Racine-Kenosha Heart & Stroke Walk to be held Saturday, Oct. 5. The location is to be determined.

To learn more about the American Heart Association and its local efforts, go to www.heart.org. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @AHAWisconsin.

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