With more than 300 walkers and 20 teams participating, the 2021 Lakes Area Heart Walk racked up more than $32,000 in donations and pledges for the American Heart Association.

As the Heart Walk's initial fundraising goal was $30,000, the event was deemed highly successful by event director Jessica Lundgren. The Aug. 12 event began and ended at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion, where participants could hear the sounds of the Noon Rotary Club's Thursday Trucks & Tunes emanating from the nearby City Park Bandshell.

"Where's everybody going?" joked one of the musicians from the Pat Lenertz Band as they watched the crowd of walkers stream past the bandshell.

Earlier in the evening, participants were able to enjoy healthy snacks and roam around a room full of sponsor booths, before gathering around the Pavilion stage for a brief program where Heart Walk "featured survivor" Jake Erickson's mother, Amy, talked a little bit about how he survived four heart surgeries before he was even a year old, and another just about two years ago, thanks to the kind of ground-breaking research supported by AHA.

"Ten years ago they couldn't have saved him," Amy said, noting that Jake's most recent surgery had been "very successful" as well as "very innovative."

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Jake, who just completed 5th grade at Rossman Elementary School in Detroit Lakes this past spring, has raised over $8,000 for the American Heart Association's youth program, the Kids' Heart Challenge, and was the top individual fundraiser for the Heart Walk itself, bringing in more than $1,700 (according to Lundgren). He thanked all the event participants for taking part in the Heart Walk, as well as all the people who had supported him in his fundraising efforts.

He and his mother Amy, along with sister Anika, all participated in the walk itself, which departed from the Pavilion and proceeded to the Spitfire Bar and Grill and back again — a total of about three miles.

More information about this year's Heart Walk is available at the website, lakesareaheartwalk.org.