SAFETY HARBOR — Today, about 20,000 people will slip on their walking shoes and head toward Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for the Tampa Bay Start! Heart Walk.
Some will walk 1 mile, others 3. With each step, they hope to bring awareness, save lives, remember loved ones.
"It's something so small to do," said Genelle Frazier, who will participate in her first walk in memory of her friend and co-worker, Twanyetta Miller.
Miller wasn't the typical face of heart disease. She wasn't obese. Her diet wasn't poor.
She was 31, a former junior Olympian who ran competitive track and field, health-conscious.
She was so proactive about her health, she got tested regularly for cancer, which runs in her family.
Despite getting annual physicals, she didn't know she had two clogged arteries.
"How do you get two clogged arteries?" her cousin, Dawn Schofield, asked. "That had to have happened over time. That should be checked and it wasn't — unless you request it."
Miller woke up the morning of Feb. 10 not knowing it would be her last.
She told her brother goodbye. She put on her shower cap and readied for work. She never made it out of her Safety Harbor home.
Her mother came home that afternoon and found her in the bed, dead of a massive heart attack.
"The silent killer," Schofield now calls it. "When we found out it was a heart attack, we were like, what? She showed no signs."
That's why about 90 relatives, friends and MetLife co-workers will participate in the walk.
"So another family won't be affected like we were," Schofield said.
It's an unusually high number and the most for any team this year, said Kate Sawa, spokeswoman for the Greater Southeast Affiliate of the American Heart Association in St. Petersburg.
But to Miller's family and friends, it's not unusual at all.
"She touched a lot of people," Schofield said. "She knew a lot of people. She was one of the people you would meet and never forget."
They call themselves Lady Nole, a nod to Miller's alma mater and the inscription on her license plate. At Florida State University, she double-majored in finance and marketing and graduated cum laude.
"She was a die-hard Seminole fan," Schofield said, "and she conducted herself as a lady."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4167.