Community comes together to raise money for Heart Association

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; It’s one thing to help raise money to fight a disease &045; in this case, heart disease &045; that affects millions of Americans each year.

It’s quite another when the cause you’re fighting for has a face, and a name. Everywhere one looked at the fourth annual Miss-Lou Heart Walk, participants were wearing T-shirts in memory of Kyle Hutchins, this year’s Heart Walk poster child.

Hutchins, a toddler who suffered from pulmonary hypertension, died Sept. 2. At Saturday’s event, many could be seen wearing shirts bearing pictures of his smiling face or, in the case of the Southwest Distributors team, shirts that read &uot;Kyle’s Buds.&uot;

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&uot;It’s for a good cause, but also, so many people have been touched by this family,&uot; said Bonnie Pyle, a member of the team United Mississippi Bank, where Kyle Hutchins’ father, Chris, works.

In all, more than 75 teams &045; triple last year’s amount, and about 400 people in all &045; raised more than $80,000 for this year’s Heart Walk, well above the goal of $50,000. The American Heart Association will use the money to fund research, technology and education to fight heart disease.

&uot;This is the biggest field of runners they’ve ever had,&uot; Chris Hutchins prior to the day’s walk and 5K run, which started at the Main Street Marketplace.

&uot;So many people have raised money to try to make this walk a success. Š We’re just overwhelmed. Tell everybody thanks from us.&uot;

&uot;There are family members, friends, church members, and just people from the community who wanted to come out to support this family,&uot; said event Chairwoman Kristie Stewart, whose daughter is a previous poster child.

&uot;That’s just another example of what makes this community special,&uot; said Stephanie Hutchins, Kyle Hutchins’ grandmother and a member of the &uot;Kyle’s Buds&uot; team. &uot;This community rallies around families in times of need.&uot;

In addition to supporting the Hutchins family, participants noted that everyone knows someone affected by heart disease &045; so everyone should participate.

&uot;I’ve had at least five family members&uot; with heart disease, said Becky Fulton, a Natchez Regional Medical Center team member who has participated in the event since its first year.

Fulton herself recently discovered the value of high-tech advances in heart surgery.

A procedure that used to involve highly complicated open-heart surgery was done instead through the side of Fulton’s neck, and she was only in the hospital one day.

&uot;I had been on medication for 15 years and hadn’t had the surgery because I thought it would be such a big deal,&uot; Fulton said. That, she said, shows the importance of raising money for research through events such as the Heart Walk.