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Local Heart Walk raises nearly $50,000 for American Heart Association

Detroit Lakes residents Melissa and Matt Lepper brought their 1½-year-old son Mikko up to the podium at the Lakes Area Heart Walk to talk about how their family had become stronger, and closer-knit than they ever thought they could be after Mikko was born with a congenital heart defect that necessitated surgery when he was just 5 days old. (Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)1 / 2
The family of Melissa, Matt, Rex (on bike) and Mikko Lepper (in stroller) led off the "Survivors Lap" that began the Lakes Area Heart Walk on June 1. The event raised nearly $50,000 for the American Heart Association, and drew its biggest crowd ever, according to organizers. (Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)2 / 2

Sunny skies and a generous community resulted in a big day for the Lakes Area Heart Walk, held on Thursday, June 1 at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion.

"We estimate that we had between 250-300 people in attendance, which is the biggest walk we've ever had!" said the American Heart Association's Julia Dangerfield, who helped coordinate the event.

A total of nearly $50,000 was raised for the American Heart Association at the annual benefit, which exceeded the $45,000 goal set by organizers. All of the proceeds raised by the event go toward the AHA's research, education, and advocacy efforts.

Besides the walk itself, the evening also included a variety of informational booths, "heart healthy" snacks, games and activities for the whole family.

Melissa Lepper, the mother of Heart Walk "featured survivor" Mikko Lepper, who is just 1½ years old, also gave an emotional account of how she, her husband and their other son, 4-year-old Rex, had coped with their youngest son being born with a congenital heart defect, before the family led the "Survivors Lap" that started out the walk.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454