News | Published September 7, 2012

22 month-old Heart Hero is inspiration for Heart Walk on Sunday

Aubrey's Angels will be walking in the Centre County Heart Walk to be held on Sunday, September 9, at the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College, will you?

Registration starts at noon, and the walk will begin at 1:00 pm. Aubrey Tusar's story is meant to be an inspiration to those who are considering participating in the three-mile walk to benefit the American Heart Association (AHA). She is this year's Heart Hero.

Aubrey Tusar, now 22 months, was born with a congenital heart defect and will undergo multiple procedures throughout her life to treat the disorder. She and her twin sister Ainsley both have Turner Syndrome, but Ainsley does not have the heart defect.

"Aubrey has been an inspiration to many of our family members. Despite any obstacles she may face, she meets everything head on and with little fear," said Erin Tusar, the little girl's mom. "We're very honored for her to be named this year's Heart Hero, and our family will be walking in support of her as members of the Aubrey's Angels team."

The American Heart Association chooses heart heroes with a compelling story to share that can help others build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Mount Nittany Health's Diane Bartram, RN, was honored as a co-hero for the 2010 Centre County Heart Walk. She continues to participate in the event, and will be walking as a member of Mount Nittany Health's team, the Pacemakers.

"Mount Nittany Health is the 'heart' of the State College health community. And as such, by contributing to the heart walk, Mount Nittany Health demonstrates an interest in and commitment to the heart health of every resident of the community," said Bartram, who has participated in the walk for three years.

"Mount Nittany Health has participated in the Centre County Heart Walk as a corporate sponsor for nine years," said Gail Miller, RN, MS, CPHQ, vice president for quality at Mount Nittany Medical Center, who has been involved in the walk for the past three years. "Our goal is to have as many walkers participate as possible. This year, we'd like to see more than 100 walkers from Mount Nittany Health, and also, we'd like to raise $15,000. We aim higher each year, and we're excited about achieving this year's goals."

A key individual who has helped Mount Nittany Health coordinate its walking teams and carry out various fundraising activities is Tracey Zoda, chair of this year's walk and wife of Mount Nittany Physician Group cardiologist Albert Zoda, MD, FACC.

"As a former cardiac care social worker, and also the wife of a cardiologist, anything heart-related is important to me," said Zoda, who will be walking alongside her husband with Mount Nittany Health's cardiac catheterization lab team. "It is important for Mount Nittany Health to be involved in our community to get the word out on all the preventive resources available to help those in our community lead healthier lives. The cardiology department continues to expand its services and has successfully provided a much-needed service in Centre County. Together with what the AHA can provide, we hope to improve the lives of many people in the area," said Zoda.

To learn more about the heart walk and how you can support Mount Nittany Health's contribution, visit, call 814.954.7035 or contact