Breanna Vergara Foundation begins first virtual 5K to fight kids’ heart disease (includes video story)

In 2014, after losing their 11-year-old daughter to Wolf Parkinson White syndrome, Claudia and Jesus Vergara founded the Breanna Vergara foundation. Wolf Parkinson White syndrome, or WPW, is defined by an extra electrical pathway between the heart’s upper and lower chambers that causes a rapid heartbeat. The condition is present at birth but sometimes isn’t detected. The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about the importance of pediatric heart screening.

Claudia and Jesus Vergara said they wanted to spread awareness on sudden cardiac arrest and how it can affect children. “The foundation came about when Breanna passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a non-detected heart condition,” Claudia says. “While she was at dance, she went into cardiac arrest. Based on what she had, we decided we wanted to spread awareness about sudden cardiac arrest.”

The foundation has donated 28 automated external defibrillators to dance studios and youth centers across South Florida. They have also performed 28,000 free EKG’s on young athletes. Since 2015, the foundation has hosted an annual 5K to raise awareness. However, this year things are going to run differently. To ensure the safety of participants and sponsors, the Breanna Vergara Foundation will host its first-ever virtual 5K.

Past 5ks had booths where participants could enjoy things like face painting and Vicky Bakery pastries. “The previous 5Ks were super fun. You were able to meet friends and family, and they always have a whole bunch of vendors. They have the Breanna Vergara booth where you can buy T-shirts, wristbands,” said Sabrina Villarreal, who attended last year’s 5K.

This year, participants can run the 5K anywhere and track their progress through the app, RaceJoy. The app also allows runners to track other participants and cheer on each other. At the end of the race, the results can be seen on the app. “I plan to run with my friends but the ones I can’t run with, I plan to cheer them on through the app,” said Villarreal.

Participants can catch this race anywhere from December 1 to December 13. Tickets are $25 and you can register at thebreannavergarafoundation.org.

Chabelis Leal is a student at Florida International University majoring in Broadcast Media. She has a passion for reporting and communicating with others in order to tell their stories. She hopes to one day be a news anchor and serve as a voice for the community of South Florida.

Zitlali Solache is a student in Florida International University, pursuing her degree in Broadcast Journalism and minor in Entrepreneurship. Zitlali Solache is Mexican American and has a passion for storytelling and news. She has interned for WPBT PBS and WSVN Channel 7. After graduation, Zitlali aspires to pursue her Master’s degree in Spanish Language Journalism, and become a reporter/anchor in Miami, FL.