The Times
  • America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk goal: $1,133,000

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  • UTICA — Mike Heysham had simply thought he caught a cold.
    But he said, “There happened to be a virus that came along with it, and it attacked my heart.”
    In 1999, he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy — a heart condition caused by a viral infection — and for years dealt with pacemakers and heart pumps to keep his heart working.
    Heysham, now 43, received a heart transplant roughly two years ago.
    The Marcy resident was one of three Red Cap survivor ambassadors chosen as educators and informers of heart disease for this year’s America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk and was introduced during the campaign kick-off on last week at Masonic Care Community in Utica.
    Along with Heysham, 46-year-old Anne Schug-Williams and 14-year-old Hunter Hagenbuch were selected for the honor.
    A goal for the fundraiser also was set at $1,133,000.
    The Heart Run & Walk Weekend is slated for Feb. 28 and March 1 at Utica College’s Harold T. Clark Athletic Center.
    Schug-Williams said after her heart attack in July 2011, she had open heart surgery and a double by-pass. Her advice is simple: listen to your doctor.
    “I think that it can be controlled,” she said. “You have to work in conjunction with your doctor and health care professionals.”
    Hagenbuch, who was diagnosed with atrial septal defect when she was 5 years old, said after open-heart surgery she’s back to being a normal kid.
    “I want people to understand that not everybody is born equally,” she said. “There are a lot of differences.”
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