SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Heart disease is the number one killer in America, but you can do your part to help find a cure by being a part of this year's American Heart Association's Heart Walk.
The event begins Saturday morning at nine at the Cox Health Pediatrix Field at National and Walnut Lawn. The goal is $225,000; a lot of that money will help families right here in the Ozarks.
"It is the number one killer of men; it's the number one killer of women; in fact it takes more lives than the next five causes of death combined including all forms of cancer; it's also the number one birth defect in children," says Karl Schmidt with the American Heart Association
Children like Audrey Pearce. "Called ALCAPA; Anomolous Left Coronary Artery to the Pulminary Artery," says Audrey's mother Yvette.
When Audrey was just three months old; her parents knew something was wrong. "She was fussy and she wasn't eating; her heart basically became enlarged," says Yvette.
So they went to the Children's Hospital in St. Louis; where doctors decided Audrey needed a heart transplant. "We had to go to a transplant because her heart was so sick; she couldn't recover from where it had been," says Audrey's father Matt Pearce; a principal at Glendale High School.
"I think it was a matter of time before she would have had a heart attack," says Yvette, "We just waited and waited and waited and in tv drama fashion, the surgeon busts in the room and says we have a heart available and you need to decide within an hour if you want it or not."
Audrey's prognosis is positive.; and her parents give credit to the American Heart Association & its donors. "It's helping them understand how to better treat people like Audrey; they were able to do things with Audrey that they know didn't work in the late '80's and early '90's," says Matt.
But they've still got a long way to go. "Since 2000 we've had a 31% decrease in cardiovascular disease deaths and that's almost 280,000 lives a year that are being saved and yet with that decrease cardiovascular disease is till the number one killer of Americans."