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Walkers 'pumped' for Heart Walk

Life can change in a heartbeat...that is something Luanna Lake found out instantly after giving birth to her son, Brady, in Detroit Lakes.

"The nurses took him and kept doing something with him, so I told my husband to go see what was going on," said Lake.

What was going on was no matter how much the nurses rubbed Brady's little feet, they wouldn't pink-up.

A short time later came a chilling suggestion.

"They thought I should get him baptized right there in the room," Lake said.

So they did.

The next thing Lake knew, the doctors were rushing Brady to Fargo where they pumped oxygen into his blood and then sent him off to a Twin Cities hospital.

"They found out he had transposition of the great arteries," Lake explained. "Two of his main arteries in his heart were switched around, so he had to have surgery when he was one week old."

It took Brady a month to recover in the hospital, with doctors giving him a good prognosis of a normal functioning heart.

And while Brady, now 7, doesn't remember the trauma, his mother will never forget.

She is now the co-chair of the Detroit Lakes Heart Walk.

"You don't think things like this are important in your life until something happens to you that makes you take notice," Lake said.

Lake and her co-chair, Lori Dirckx, whose father suffers from heart problems, are "pumped" to make the Heart Walk even bigger than it's been since its 2002 inception.

"Our goal overall is to raise $50,000, with everything going to the American Heart Association -- research for heart disease and stroke," said Dirckx.

Lake and Dirckx are mixing things up a little this year, starting with the location.

The walk, scheduled for Saturday, March 14, will be held at the Middle School track, instead of the traditional Pavilion site.

That's because the event will also showcase a silent auction, "and the middle school had more room for that," Lake said.

Some of the bigger items up for bid include Red Hawks tickets, WE Fest tickets, hotel stays, gift baskets, a steam-vac, golfing packages, a pontoon ride and tickets to a water park at the Wisconsin Dells.

Dirckx says the walk will be set up for three miles, but said people often choose to walk further than that.

Another addition to the event this year is kids' games, which will be set up for play before the walk.

"We'll have beanbag tosses, a ring toss, planko, and instead of a cake walk we'll have a muffin walk. It's healthier," smiled Lake.

There will be music by ShowTyme DJ Service, as well as a free lunch following the walk, provided by Central Market.

There will also be several booths set up from area health organizations, including free massages from Harmony Massage.

There are area businesses and families who have been busy raising money for the event, but Lake and Dirckx say anybody from the public is welcome to participate in the walk without having to do fundraising.

"It's a family event," Lake said, "so people can come out and push their kids in strollers, and even walk their dogs."

One family who will be there is Matt and Josie Johnson, along with their son, Will, almost 2.

Will is slated to be the little man of the hour, as he is this year's spokesman for the Heart Walk.

Will has been diagnosed with tetrology of fallot and double outlet right ventricle and suffered from a sinus of valsalva aneurysm.

He had two heart surgeries before his first birthday and will need another one in the future.

And although his smiley face is going to be the face of the event, organizers are hoping it's only one of many.

"Our city has a lot of great people; there are a lot of supporters of every organization out there --it's such a giving community," Dirckx said.

The organization is still looking for volunteers to run the kids' games during registration, which begins at 9 a.m. in the Detroit Lakes Middle School.

The walk begins at 10 a.m., with the silent auction ending at 11:30, and the event wrapping up at noon.

In the event of rain, the walk will be moved into the school. For more information or to volunteer, call Lori Dirckx at 218-841-5168.