It's hard to find a person in America who doesn't know someone who has suffered from heart disease. So on Sunday, more than 200 people in Rome fought back. They raised money to help find a cure through a Run/Walk event. But for some teams and families participating, this cause hits close to home. Our Cara Thomas tells us about a two-year-old boy who beat the odds and survived.
ROME, N.Y. -- For anyone who doesn't know Nathan Hurlbut, he may seem like any ordinary two-year-old boy.
"He's running laughing climbing just like any two-year-old. Like you would never know unless you saw the fading scar on his chest," said his sister, Lindsey Hurlbut.
But he's much more than ordinary, he's a survivor.
She said, "He had a hole in his heart when he was born. He had two of them actually and one of them closed but the other one didn't."
"It took a lot of adapting. He was very sick. He had to have medication to help keep food off of his lungs because his heart wasn't pumping properly, his heart was enlarging, it was a shock," said Nathan's father, Kenneth Hurlbut.
At six-months-old, Nathan had open-heart surgery to repair the hole in his heart. And family members say it was one of the scariest moments of their lives.
"There's no known cure for it. You can only repair it and hope for the best," said Lindsey.
Heart problems can happen at any age, even for newborns like Nathan and residents in Rome are doing what they can to raise awareness about the number one killer in America: Heart disease.
Diane Butler, a Chairperson for the Rome Indoor Heart Run/Walk, said, "Heart disease touches everybody. You have a grandparent with heart disease, a parent, a sibling, a child. It affects everybody all walks of life."
More than 200 people came out to the Rome Indoor Run/Walk on Sunday, donating money to the American Heart Association to help them find a cure, while also learning easy ways to stay healthy.
"Walk your dog, get some exercise, eat right. If you do those steps, you can prevent a lot of things," said Butler.
By the end of the day, more than $20,000 had been raised. And Nathan's family says through those donations and the lessons learned at Sunday's walk, if even just one life is saved, then it's all worth it.
Sunday's Indoor Walk/Run Event was only a precursor for 2013's America's Greatest Heart Run/Walk in Utica next month. The event will take place March 2nd. Organizers hope to raise more than $1 million towards a cure for heart disease and stroke.