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Atlanta Heart Walk is personal for woman

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ATLANTA -

The Atlanta Heart Walk is set for Saturday morning. About 15,000 metro Atlanta residents are expected to walk and raise money for the American Heart Association. Each participant has their own reason as to why they're taking part.

For Michelle Brown, it's about her mother and herself.

Brown, an administrative assistant at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center, said the reason she's so passionate about heart disease is because of her mother.

Brown says there are a lot of ways to describe Mary Allen:  mother of four girls, a wife, a seamstress, an excellent baker, gifted cook and school bus driver.

"She was a wonderful person. Wonderful," Brown said.

In 1994, Allen was hospitalized with pneumonia. She was still in her 40s, but got very sick.

"And she ended up coming out with a diagnosis of heart failure," Brown said.

Allen battled heart failure for more than two decades, before the family lost her in April of 2012. That's when Michelle -- now in her early 40s -- started really thinking about her own heart.

"She and I had conversations, where she said, ‘Michelle, I don't want you to be sick like me,'" Brown said. "She knew about my need to lose weight, and she always encouraged me. But after she died, that's when it really clicked, that I needed to get out and lose the weight, walk, exercise."

So that's what Michelle is doing: walking three miles a day.

"In the past three months, I've lost 23 pounds from walking and changing my eating habits, because both of them had to be done," Brown said.

Brown is in her second year as team captain of Emory's Heart Center's Metro Atlanta Heart Walk Team. This year she's signed up more than 90 family members and coworkers, raising about $1,200 dollars to pay tribute to her mom.

"When I walk around a corner they say, ‘Here she comes!  She's either going to recruit you to walk or get a donation,'" said Brown.

When she walks, Michelle feels connected to her mom, like she'd be proud.

"Saturday is going to be a big day for me," Brown said. "Last year, we had over 15,000 walkers combined from all different companies.  But just to be able to walk with my family and remember my mom, I feel like that is going to be a big deal."

Michelle says she doesn't have a specific amount of weight she'd like to lose; she just wants to get healthy.

Click here for more information about the Atlanta Heart Walk.

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