- Associated Press - Saturday, October 15, 2016

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - Marietta resident Bill Chegwidden has seen the power of state-of-the-art heart treatment.

Chegwidden, a Marietta architect, said he became involved in Northwest Georgia Heart Walk and 5K Heart Run because his grandson, James, had open-heart surgery shortly after he was born in Dallas, Texas.

This year’s Northwest Georgia Heart Walk and 5K Heart Run are scheduled Oct. 22 on Marietta Square.

Thirteen years ago, Chegwidden said James’ mom could not leave the hospital so shortly after giving birth, and James’ father, Chad Chegwidden, was sick and could not go to the hospital.

“It’s one of those phone calls you never want to get,” Bill Chegwidden said.

He flew to Dallas to meet his grandson in the hospital where doctors had to “re-pipe” his heart.

“His heart was probably the size of a walnut,” he said.

Bill Chegwidden, a principal architect and president of CDH Partners in Marietta, said he learned from James’ doctors about heart procedures and innovative research related to children’s heart problems.

He said it is amazing “what they’re able to do for these kids who wouldn’t have been able to have a normal life.”

Now, James, 13, plays hockey and does not experience any problems, the grandfather said.

Three years ago, Chegwidden joined Northwest Atlanta Heart Walk, which benefits the American Heart Association.

He has been able to raise funds through the annual heart walk and run to benefit heart treatments and research to help children like his grandson.

He said most people willingly give to the Heart Association because “everyone’s been touched.”

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for one in seven deaths to total more than 370,000 deaths a year. Stroke is the fifth leading killer of Americans.

The Atlanta chapter of the American Heart Association wants to raise a combined $3.5 million through the Marietta event and a similar event in Atlanta in September. The proceeds will benefit heart and stroke research and treatment options.

After seeing the importance of well-funded heart research and treatment used to help his grandson, Bill Chegwidden said he is working to help other families now.

“It’s for the future and maybe their grandkids,” he said.

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Information from: Marietta Daily Journal, http://mdjonline.com/

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