Running for hearts

By Perry Russom

April 21, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2013 at 10:23 AM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 600,000 people die every year from heart disease.

Elijah Mushalla is one young man who beat the odds. He was born with a congenital heart problem. At the age of 12, his symptoms worsened.

"He was really young so it was kind of touch to watch him go through that," Elijah's older sister Alyssa said.

A few years ago, he had surgery in Syracuse to repair the a defective heart valve.

"Ever since they were able to do that procedure, he's really 100 percent," Elijah's father Mark said. "He's back to doing anything that any normal child would do."

Sunday in Vestal, Elijah ran with around 150 runners in a 5k to raise money for the American Heart Association.

His father, Mark, was one of the event organizers.

"It's really nice for the community to come together and show support for such a nice cause," said Alyssa.

"I think it's a great thing," said Elijah. "I want to raise money for people who have problems like me."

All proceeds from Sunday's run went to the American Heart Association.

According to the the American Heart Association, there are seven steps you can take to protect your heart:

1) Quit smoking
2) Maintain a healthy weight
3) Get active
4) Eat better
5) Control cholesterol
6) Manage blood pressure
7) Reduce blood sugar