Mia Kelly was born with a congenital heart defect. She has had four open-heart surgeries.
Now 24 years old, Kelly looks forward to giving back to other survivors and those who have been impacted by heart disease.
Kelly shared her story as the featured speaker before this year’s American Heart Association Southern Delaware Heart Walk in Rehoboth Beach Nov. 5. She also sang the national anthem before the event kicked off.
“This means a lot to me. I’m very grateful for all my family, friends who support me,” Kelly said. “I hear of a lot of research being done toward not getting as many surgeries and tests. I think that is great.”
Kelly is now a nurse and will soon be working in pediatric oncology at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
She was one of hundreds of people who hit the boards for the 3-mile walk to celebrate survivors and those who have died from heart disease.
“The Heart Walk brings together families, co-workers and friends to have fun while helping millions of others at the same time,” said Shabool Henry, the new executive director of the American Heart Association of Delaware.
She was attending her first Southern Delaware Heart Walk. “I’m impressed,” she said.
There were teams from Beebe Healthcare, Bayhealth, Tidal Health and other local sponsors.
“We’re here for Team Bob,” said Anastasia Iannacone of Milton. “Bob was our old neighbor who sadly passed away. It means a lot to us and to his family.”
Iannacone also said she lost a friend to a heart attack last year.
Henry said they were close to reaching their goal of $277,000 from this year’s walk.
“Our Heart Walk funds science that gives healthcare providers the tools they need when it counts, in the moments when someone’s life is in their hands,” she said.
Henry said the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions would be held in Philadelphia starting Nov. 11. That is where the late-breaking research, news and innovations on cardiovascular disease will be unveiled, Henry said.
Henry said the American Heart Association is looking forward to celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2024.