Watching Mark Gazette walk alongside hundreds of other participants in the 2017 Tyler Heart Walk, it might be hard to imagine that 6 ½ weeks ago he had open-heart surgery.

But because of the event’s purpose-raising money for the American Heart Association, a nonprofit with a mission to reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke-on Saturday there seemed to be no place he would have rather been.

“I’m just thankful I’m able to participate in such a worthy cause,” he said. “I’m just so blessed.”

On Saturday, hundreds of people participated in the annual event, presented by Christus Trinity Mother Frances, at the track and field at Robert E. Lee High School and at Rose Rudman Trail.

Suzette Farr, marketing director with the American Heart Association, said before the walk began that 700 people signed up to participate.

At the start of the event, about $36,000 had been raised.

She added that she hoped people would leave the event understanding the importance of getting health screenings and wanting to know more about their own heart health.“

(The event) is to bring awareness to our community about heart disease and stroke,” she said. “We’re here advocating for a healthier Tyler.”