Syracuse Heart Walk Promotes Awareness, Healthy Lifestyle Among Cny Residents

Syracuse, NY– Bob Burns is lucky to be alive today.

At age 52, the Baldswinsville man was diagnosed with Aortic valve Stenosis, a conditon that narrows the heart’s aortic valve and makes it difficult to pump blood throughout the body.

“I learned that there was nothing I could do either through exercise or diet that would make it go away or make it better, but some day, I was going to need open-heart surgery,” Burns, now 62, said.

Burns’ doctor told him he was asymptomatic, meaning he had no symptoms. Six days before his surgery, Burns’ doctor told him he had a complete heart block, and the electrical signals of his heart weren’t reaching his ventricles. He needed to have a pacemaker put in that day.

Burns was the inspirational honoree at today’s Syracuse Heart Walk, an annual event sponsored by the American Heart Association[1]. The walk, which took place at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena, drew more than 3,000 participants. It is the association’s largest fundraising event, bringing in $350,000. Although the event brought in less than the $500,000 goal, those in attendance agree the walk is not just about raising money– it’s about coming together as a community to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke.

Allison Peacock, 35, of Syracuse, has participated in the Syracuse Heart Walk for three years. Today, she said, she was walking in support of her father, who had quadruple bypass heart surgery last March.

“We do it in support of him,” she said.

Peacock is not alone. Bob Markowski, logistics chairman of the walk, said heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.

“I personally got involved because I had a friend of mine that I was running with who had a heart attack while running and passed away,” Markowski said.

The best thing someone can do for their heart is walk, he said. In fact, a recent study[2] in the American Heart Association journal, “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology,” found that walking is just as effective at lowering the risk of heart-related conditions as running.

The American Heart Association recommends that people get 150 minutes of walking per week, which is the equivalent of walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

“It’s easy, and it doesn’t take a gym membership or expensive equipment, all you need is sneakers,” said Kristy Smorol, communications director of the American Heart Association’s Greater Syracuse division.

Central New York has a large community of walkers and runners, Smorol said. “This community likes to move, and this is something that lets them do that while highlighting their heart health.”

Mary DiBiase, 52, of Minoa, came out to volunteer at the Syracuse Heart Walk because heart disease runs in her family. “I had a step-brother who passed away waiting for a transplant before his 50th birthday,” she said.

For Burns, the inspirational honoree, the support he was able to get through the American Heart Association was literally the difference between life or death.

“It was very traumatic,” he said. “I had to have my heart stopped and go on a heart-lung machine.”

Now, Burns is stronger than ever. He planned to run three miles today, and his goal was to do it in less than 29 minutes, something he was never able to do before his surgery.

But his true mission today was to raise both awareness and money to fight a disease that nearly took his life.

“The fact that you feel like you’re in good health doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in good health,” he said, “and this can help save people’s lives.”

Contact Stephanie Bouvia at snbouvia@gmail.com[3], or follow her on Twitter at @snbouvia[4].


  1. ^ American Heart Association (www.heart.org)
  2. ^ a recent study (newsroom.heart.org)
  3. ^ snbouvia@gmail.com (www.syracuse.com)
  4. ^ @snbouvia (twitter.com)

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  1. Reply

    Why Is A Healthy Lifestyle Important In School? I need some ideas about Why a healthy lifestyle is important in school. I have to have an answer in less than 1000 words. Applying for college scholarship. Thanks in advance!

      • HealthNut
      • April 6, 2013

      You need a healthy lifestyle in school to concentrate on your studies. You need to be able to focus for one thing. You also need to plenty of rest, and a good diet.

    • Bob
    • April 6, 2013

    What Are Some Healthy Lifestyle Changes To Make? So I’ve started drinking more water. I drink Green, White, and Chai tea. I also bought the stainless steel water bottle, and I bike for about 20-30 minutes a day. I consider these healthy lifestyle changes. I was wondering if you could provide more suggestions along these lines.

      • HealthNut
      • April 6, 2013

      There are 5 elements in a healthy lifestyle.

      1. food
      2. exercise
      3. sleep
      4. happiness
      5. extra healthy things

      1. Food, we don’t really know that much about nutrition, we do know a blanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is good for you. Meat is pretty good, if it is lean and not eaten too often….ideally I might eat meat once or twice a week. A good healthy diet can include some indulgences.
      2. Exercise, you should do some. Though I don’t recommend routine exercise, cycle 2 or 3 times a week, join a social sports club, eg, tennis, go hiking on weekends, swimming is one of the best exercises for the whole body. If you vary your exercise, then you will enjoy it more and do more.
      3. Sleep. A lot of evidence says if you don’t get enough sleep you will have problems, eat more, metabolise your food differently and die young.
      4. Be happy, enjoy your life. Drink dance, eat chocolate, but not all day, everyday.
      5. Then there are all the little extras. eg, green tea (there is no such things as Chai tea….chai means tea, it is an indian word derived from the chinese word Cha, meaning tea), red wine, brocollie and beetroot, lots of things than can boost your body, ginger, garlice and hundreds of other things that you can add to your diet to make things a little better.

      Don’t obsess, don’t live by a book or a routine, just be healthy.

    • Coco
    • April 6, 2013

    Is Dairy An Important Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle? I consume 3 servings of dairy in the first half of my day, and none later on. Is dairy important to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

      • HealthNut
      • April 6, 2013

      Calcium, not dairy specifically, is what’s important to a healthy lifestyle. Many other things have calcium like broccoli, nuts, fish, water, etc. The amounts are smaller though so you’d have to consume a lot more of them to get the calcium that you need, which is why people find it easier to get it through dairy. Our bodies don’t actually absorb all the calcium from dairy products very well because of the fat in them; that is why “western” societies actually have the highest rates of osteoperosis, where countries that don’t consume dairy products at all but get calcium from other sources, actually have stronger bones and very low rates of this disease.

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