After biking thousands of miles from Santa Monica to New York City this summer, the 5K Congenital Heart Walk isn’t much of a challenge for Nels Matson. But Nels, who’s been named honorary chairperson of the walk, can’t wait to attend.
"Whether it's a 5k walk, a 3,700 mile bike journey, or a triathlon, I'm going to keep at it until congenital heart defects aren't our most deadly birth defect. I'm going to keep at it so treatments for these little guys gets easier and better. I'm not going to stop until congenital heart defects become household knowledge," says Nels Matson a heart defect survivor who had open-heart surgery as a toddler. "I'm one of the lucky ones." (See Nels’ interview on the Today Show by clicking here or going to http://www.athletes4heart.com/SPONSORS.html)
Nearly one in every 100 babies is born with a heart defect. For advocates of congenital heart defect research, a fundraising walk is especially meaningful because so many infants die of heart defects before taking their first step. And some people who live with heart defects are restricted in their physical activities.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that research is making a huge impact. While congenital heart defects remain our most common and most deadly birth defect, advances in research have made a huge difference in the field. Thanks to research, many of the most complex heart defects can now be surgically repaired. And some of the millions who are living with heart defects may be able to expect a better quality of life and fewer open-heart surgeries in their future.
The local chapter of the Children’s Heart Foundation (based in Oldsmar) has been raising money for research for more than seven years. But this is the first time the group is joining forces with another nonprofit to increase the impact and the potential of the walk.
This inaugural Congenital Heart Walk—a joint effort between the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) and the Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF)—takes place in eight locations across the country, including Tampa, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC—plus an additional location—online—for those who want to participate virtually.
If you’re interested in interviewing Nels Matson or someone from the Florida chapter of the Children’s Heart Foundation in advance of the walk, please contact Gerri Kramer at
(813) 505-2550 or [email protected]
If you’re interested in attending the walk, here are the details. We encourage you to include this information in your community calendar:
What: Congenital Heart Walk, a 5K walk plus family fun and entertainment
When: October 10, 2010 8 am registration, 9 am walk
Where: Al Lopez Park, 4810 N Himes Ave., Tampa, FL 33614
Website: www.CongenitalHeartWalk.Kintera.org/TampaBay or http://www.childrensheartfoundation.org/
Description: The Tampa Congenital Heart Walk is part of an exciting, joint effort between the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) and the Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF). It’s one of eight walks being held throughout the country. We’re walking to raise awareness and research funds in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment of our most common birth defect. Nearly one in every 100 Americans is born with a heart defect. Tampa walkers will be inspired by honorary chairman Nels Matson, a local CHD survivor who made headlines as he biked across the U.S. this summer to raise money for CHF. Music and games will make it fun for the whole family.
For more information: Ellen Weiss, [email protected] 727-772-7699 or Anthony Buffone [email protected]
Media inquiries: Contact Gerri Kramer, 813-505-2550 or [email protected]