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Heart and Stroke Walk draws more than 1,000 to Valencia Saturday

Seven such events aim to raise $1.75 million in L.A. County

Posted: October 26, 2013 6:00 p.m.
Updated: October 26, 2013 6:00 p.m.

More than 1,000 Santa Clarita Valley residents joined in the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Walk on Saturday, one of seven such walks held in Los Angeles County this year.

The event at the Westfield Valencia Town Center aimed to help raise money for research and to promote heart-healthy activities.

This was the first year the event was hosted in Santa Clarita, according to organizers.

“We wanted to be in areas where we could be the most effective,” said Jason Lustina, a business development director for the American Heart Association. “For people to come out and raise funds is a great thing.”

The goal this year is to raise $1.75 million through the seven Los Angeles County walks.

Five walks have been held so far and have raised $911,430, according to the Heart Association.

At Saturday’s event, participants walked and ran a 5K, which included two full laps around the mall and a final lap that went through the mall and ended at a finish line in the parking lot.

The walk included live music and an opening dance routine from Camille’s Happy Hearts Gang, a local children’s dance group supporting 7-year-old Camille Freeman’s journey through congenital heart disease.

Camille Freeman said it makes her feel happy and gives her feel comfort that people are supporting her and helping others.

Camille’s mom, Katie Freeman, said she was thrilled that Santa Clarita hosted a walk this year after she participated in the last seven walks at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Fifteen local vendors, including representatives from Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, offered participants free health screenings, CPR demonstrations and information on healthy living.

“Many of the people that came out today have a personal connection to heart disease or stroke,” said Kristine Kelly, a senior director with the American Heart Association. “These are families that have somehow been touched by heart disease or simply because they really want to support the cause of promoting healthy lifestyles.”

With a large turnout for the event, Kelly said there is a likelihood Santa Clarita will host a walk again next year.

There are two more walks this year: on Nov. 2 in Santa Monica and Nov. 10 in Long Beach. For more information on how to register to participate or donate money, visit




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