Many people laced up their sneakers to walk for a good cause close to their hearts. It was Rome's Annual Indoor Heart Run and Walk at Rome Free Academy.
More than 200 people came out to raise over $25,000 to fight heart disease and stroke.
Most came in teams, and everyone had a reason to be there.
"I'm a survivor. It's something I just had to do. It's a part of who I am," said Debbie Kryczkowski.
"We're here to support Nathan because when he was six months old he had open heart surgery," said Lindsey Hurlbut.
"Team Riegler. We are supporting my dad today who was diagnosed with heart complications in 2007," said Holly Hoag.
But, one man in particular seemed to stand out from the rest.
35-year-old Russell Arant, a Rome resident and Director of Surgical Services at Rome Memorial Hospital shared his story about his open heart surgery.
A little over a year ago he was diagnosed with a birth defect.
"As a result of that birth defect, I needed immediate open heart surgery where they needed to replace one of the valves in my heart and removed a 3-inch section of my aorta because of an aneurysm. It could have ruptured at any time," explained Arant.
And he could have died. Russell says he was completely blind-sided by his heart condition.
"I've always been very athletic. I even participated in a triathlon two weeks prior to being diagnosed. So no-- it was asymptomatic. Simply the doctor heard a heart murmur with his stethoscope," says Russell.
Russell says the heart surgery seemed like the easiest part of the ordeal. Although his family lived out of a hotel room for three weeks, Russell says the hardest part for him and his family was the recovery process.
"I wasn't able to take out the trash. Pick up my two year old daughter or my two month old son because they all weighed over ten pounds. For about a month and a half I got home I wasn't even able to pick up my kids and hug them like I used to," he said.
Russell recovered in eight weeks and though he says it was a challenging time in his life, it was still a positive experience overall.
"Honestly the way I look at it, there are a lot of people who care for all of us. It's almost our responsibility to take care of ourselves so that the people that love us have us around. If I wouldn't have taken control of my life I wouldn't be here today. And my wife probably would be here raising our two kids by herself," says Russell.
Russell tells Eyewitness News he has inherited the nickname "Tinman" from the Wizard of Oz after his open heart surgery.