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Ottawans show some heart

Heart disease and stroke patients and their friends and families gathered at city hall Sunday to walk in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

When Buddy Leung suffered a heart attack three years ago, it changed his life for the better.

He became more active, reduced his stress levels at work and got active with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, taking on a role as area captain for the annual canvassing campaign.

Yesterday, he and his wife, Christine, attended the Walk for Heart at city hall.

“We’re here to raise awareness and to support (patients suffering from heart disease and stroke) and also, to remember what happened to Buddy,” said Christine Leung.

At Sunday’s walk, the Leungs’ story wasn’t unique.

Many of the participants are either survivors of heart disease and stroke or have lost loved ones to the disease, said event organizer Melanie Fulop.

Indeed, more than 200 participants brought in $12,000 — with more expected to come — for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Bernie Hurley participated in the walk with his family, raising $1,000.

“My dad developed heart disease three years ago,” said Hurley, an ophthalmologist who was accompanied by his wife, Melissa, kids Devin, Jenna, and Luke, sister, Karen and their friend, Candace Bardea. “He was very sick in ICU when it first happened.”

But thanks to the treatment he got, he was able to participate in the walk last year, Hurley said.

“We’ve done this walk the last couple of years. It’s a good cause — it’s such a common condition.”

Affecting one-third of Canadians, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in Canada, said Sue Flowers, senior area manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. In Ottawa, 28 people are hospitalized due to heart disease and stroke each day.

The money raised Sunday funds research, some of which is local, said Flowers. In 2008, the Heart and Stroke Foundation put $7 million in local research.

“Even though you hear about the economy, people really want to give in whatever way they can, whether it’s through volunteering or participation or through donations,” Flowers said. “The support is still there.”

 
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