Two childhood friends from Norwalk are sharing their stories as honorees to help raise heart disease awareness and funds for the American Heart Association (AHA).
The teens, Gavin Halsey and Abigail Stumpf, are both heart disease survivors will be walking at the Fairfield County Heart Walk on Saturday, October 19th at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
Gavin was born with a congenital heart defect called aortic stenosis—his heart valve was fused shut, reducing blood supply severely. He had heart surgery within two weeks of his birth. He suffered multiple post-surgical complications and more surgeries—all before he even reached 8 months old.
Today, Gavin is 14 years old, an A student, and has participated in five Heart Walks. He has lobbied on Capitol Hill, twice, and was chosen to be on a panel at Stepping Stones Museum, which featured children with heart issues and the importance of healthy eating.
Gavin was present at the signing of the bill with former Connecticut Governor Rell, making it mandatory to have AED’s in schools.
Gavin's preschool and elementary schoolmate, Abigail Stumpf, 14, is also a heart disease survivor.
Abigail suffered through a childhood battle with kidney disease and complications from dialysis. At just four years old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a damaged heart valve. Bacterial endocarditis—an infection in her heart valve--didn’t get better with antibiotics. A simple heart murmur was the only sound her broken heart made. And just three days after her surgery, she was released from the hospital and back to being an active kid just five days after that.
“Gavin and Abigail grew up with heart disease but they didn’t let it stop them from leading amazing lives. They are busy high school students with their whole lives ahead of them—thanks to advancements in heart research and advanced treatments,” said Kevin Byrne, Heart Walk Director, in a release. “We are grateful to them for sharing their stories.”
The Heart Walk promotes physical activity and heart-healthy living and is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser.
The non-competitive walk raises funds to support educational and advocacy programs in the Fairfield County area, as well as heart disease and stroke research.
American Heart Association-funded research has supported the winners of 13 Nobel Prizes. The AHA currently supports 45 research scientists in Connecticut with awards totaling $9,755,938 in value.
The Fairfield Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway and Jenny Craig and presented locally by Cause Sponsor, Stamford Hospital and Hands Only CPR Sponsor, Westchester Medical Center.
For more information about the Heart Walk or to start a team, please email Kevin.Byrne@heart.org or call 914-640-3262 or sign up your team online.