2023 Heart Walk honors 9-year-old Heart Warrior

The American Heart Association is hoping this year’s Kentuckiana Heart Walk will be the biggest yet.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:27 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The American Heart Association is hoping this year’s Kentuckiana Heart Walk will be the biggest yet.

This year’s honorary Heart Warrior may only be 11 years old, but she is ready to help others learn how they can live long healthy lives.

“You just don’t ever think that your kid is going to have something like that,” Bryanna Manley said of her daughter Payton, who was a healthy little girl about two years ago.

“I was at home, and I was doing a front walk-over for my family and then my heart was racing,” Payton said.

She told her mom what she was feeling. Bryanna, who is a nurse, knew what they had to do.

“I looked at my husband and said, I think we have to take her to the emergency room,” Byanna said. “And he’s like, ‘Why?’ and I’m like I think she’s in SVT.”

Payton was experiencing a dangerous form of tachycardia, which comes with a really fast heart rate.

She would end up having two heart surgeries.

Her strength, making her this year’s Heart Warrior for the American Heart Association’s 2023 Kentuckiana Heart Walk.

“It’s super, like, amazing that I can be a part of it,” Payton said.

The event is a way to reach as many people as heart problems can. Especially in a city with disparities depending on where you live.

“African Americans in the west side of Louisville, life expectancy is 12 years or less than their counterparts in the east end of Louisville,” John Walsh said. He is the current CEO of UofL Jewish Hospital and serves as Board Chair for the American Heart Association.

They are partnering with community groups to help bridge the gap, be it access to care or even the food that’s available.

“If you have an area of food insecurity or food desert, you will start to see people in that area eating non-nutritionist meals, meals that cause their chronic illnesses to be out of control, like diabetes, high blood pressure,” Dr. Chirag Patel with Welcare of Kentucky said. “Things that we would definitely be talking about with the American Heart Association.”

His organization is one of the sponsors for the Heart Walk.

He explained things as simple as how much water you drink can have an effect.

“You might not be able to change what to eat all the time, but if you can change some of that,” Patel said. “You can get better outcomes.”

The American Heart Association has recently given CPR lessons in the community, including the west end, working on stocking food pantries with healthier food, and giving out free blood pressure cuffs.

“We are trying to create a community of lifesavers,” Walsh said.

The hope the public understands heart problems can affect anyone, like Payton who, with the help of the American Heart Association, is back to cheerleading.

“It’s almost like encouraging that like, like I’ve had two surgeries, and I’m still doing stuff that I love to do,” Payton said. “And it’s just like, like empowering.”

The event is this Saturday at Waterfront Park. Several booths with many resources will be available. Doors open at 9 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m.

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