Heart Mini: Emotional start for runners

The 35th annual Heart Mini Marathon started off with an announcement that pulled at the heart strings of many of the runners.

Before the race started, the announcer told the record crowd that a heart transplant for a child was taking place at Cincinnati Children's Hospital while the runners would be competing.

The announcement served as inspiration for Amy Robillard of Mason. She was female winner to the 15K race.

"It gave me the goosebumps and it got me teary eyed," said Robillard.

Robillard's 2-year-old son Jameson had a bone marrow transplant when he was only 5 months old.

"For any child to go through a medical crisis like that, it can turn your world upside down. When you think about a race and if you are nervous about the weather or how you are going to do. It squashes it," said Robillard. "So it's motivating."

Derrick Butler of Kennedy Heights was the male winner for the 15k.

"I really love running. I've been running since middle school. I ran at LaSalle High School. I ran at Ohio State," said Butler. "Now, I'm getting ready for the Flying Pig Marathon."

Thousands of runners and walkers hit the downtown streets Sunday morning for Cincinnati's traditional first big race of the season benefiting the American Heart Association..

"The Heart Mini is one of Cincinnati's largest events, drawing tens of thousands to the downtown area," said Aaron Motley, Special Events Director of the Cincinnati division of the American Heart Association. "We are excited to celebrate 35 years of a great Cincinnati tradition that is expected to raise over $2 million for the lifesaving work of the American Heart Association."

The event has raised millions of dollars over its history. Organizers hope to raise their goal of $2.2 million this year. To donate, click here.

Every year walkers are asked to raise money from friends and family, co-workers, etc. The money that is raised is used to fund the valuable research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association.

People do not have to raise money to participate, however, the American Heart Association relies heavily on donors across the country to fund research and education programs. Raising funds through the Heart Walk is a great way to make a difference in the lives of others.

There will be several events on Saturday and Sunday as well as 70 vendors offering health screenings, fitness apparel sales, food, health and fitness seminars, healthy family activities and a test track.

For more information about the Heart Mini and to register visit www.heartmini.org or call the American Heart Association at 513-281-4048.

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