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'Heart Heroes' prep for women's half marathon in Detroit

The 'Heart Heroes' will be participating in the half-marathon on Belle Isle.
The 'Heart Heroes' will be participating in the half-marathon on Belle Isle.

DETROIT – On this beautiful afternoon on Belle Isle, Aimee Bingham is running with her daughter. A few years ago, this did not seem possible.

"The doctor said, 'We found a large aortic aneurysm, go straight to the hospital,'" Bingham said. "There was a thoracic team waiting for me."

Bingham underwent 10 hours of open heart surgery, but less than a year later she was out of her hospital bed and back to pounding the pavement.

"I used running as a way to cope and ran in a half marathon nine months later," she said.

Bingham's story inspired an idea: Heart Heroes.

"From that, the idea of honoring heart heroes, women who had overcome some sort of issue -- the idea was born from that," Jennifer Schwartz said.

Schwartz was one of the very first "Heart Heroes." She has a pacemaker, but she doesn't let that stop her.

"There's a million excuses, I'm working, I don't have time, throw my heart condition in there," Schwartz said. "But I don't let myself use any of those excused to exercise."

In three years, there've been about 30 Heart Heroes, all with varying heart conditions such as irregular heart beats and strokes. Despite their health issues, they all get out and run or walk in the Detroit Women's Half Marathon and 5K.

The women say their group is kind of like a sorority.

"When Mary asked me to do this, I didn't think we'd find women," Bingham said. "But they're out there and it's comforting to know I am not alone."

Of all the races Eva Soloman's company, Epic Races, produces, she said this race has to be her favorite.

"Just seeing those women cross the finish line brings tears to my eyes every year," Solomon said.

For more information on Heart Heroes or the Detroit Women's Half Marathon and 5 K go here: www.womenrunthed.com.