Around a year ago, John Elia was at work driving a dump truck when he began experiencing chest pains.
He was able pull over and signal to a Tyler police officer that he needed help.
It was soon determined Elia was having a heart attack, and he was later told at the hospital his heart had stopped beating several times while he was being treated.
A stent was placed in his heart, and although his recovery hasn’t been easy, on Saturday he was one of the hundreds of people who participated in the Tyler Heart Walk and 5K Red Carpet Run held at the track and field at Robert E. Lee High School.
The 5K walk and run was held to raise funds for the American Heart Association, a nonprofit organization with a mission to reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke. After walking and running on the track at Robert E. Lee, the group traveled down the Rose Rudman Trail.
Corporate Market Director with the American Heart Association, Brandi Russell, said 850 people registered for the event and all of the funds that were raised will go toward funding research grants and education programs in Smith County. Many participants held fundraisers for several months leading up to the event.
For Elia, who was named this year’s Heart Walk Survivor, he said being able to attend and participate in the event was a special experience. His wife, Summer Elia, agreed and said the family was happy to see him doing so well after his experience.
“It is probably one of the greatest joys to know he is here and able to do everything,” Mrs. Elia said. “He hasn’t missed a beat.”