Heart Mini Marathon ‘Heart Hero’ thanks runners, walkers for support

Heart Mini Marathon ‘Heart Hero’ thanks runners, walkers for support

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - You may see some runners and walkers around the Queen City this weekend completing their own Heart Mini Marathon.

The event is virtual for the second year in a row. That allows participants to run or walk on their own while staying connected through an app.

But most importantly, it helps raise much-needed money to stop the number one leading cause of death for men and women: heart disease.

Five-year-old Ava Cooper and her seven-year-old sister Bella Cooper participate in the Heart Mini Marathon events each year. They both plan to walk in the virtual race this weekend as part of Team Bella.

A group that normally raises close to $10,000 for the American Heart Association. This cause is very close to their hearts.

“When I was a baby, I had to have heart surgery because I had a hole in my heart,” explains Bella, “And they had to put me on all these little cords to hook up they had to give me a feeding tube.”

Bella is now seven years old, but when she was six months old, she had to have open-heart surgery.

“She wasn’t getting any better she was actually getting worse,” remembers Bella’s mom Jessica Cooper, “She wasn’t eating, she was turning blue, it was hard to keep her hydrated and keep her fed.”

Bella only has memories of the surgery through pictures. Now, she is an active, funny, and according to her, very fit young girl.

“Because I have strong muscles, I have a six-pack from swimming in the pool a lot.”

Jessica says she is thankful to all the people who support the American Heart Association.

“It just means the world to me because my child was able to have a life-saving surgery,” continues Jessica, “And without the latest technology and research she would not be with us today.”

“Thank you very much whoever participates in the heart mini,” exclaims Bella, “You help my heart feel much better.”

Registration for the mini my way challenge has closed for this year, but you can still donate to the American Heart Association and help heart survivors like Bella.

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