Fayetteville Kindergartener, Heart Disease Survivor Travels To Washington For Medical Rally

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A Fayetteville kindergartner and congenital heart disease survivor traveled to Washington, D.C. with his family to take part in the Rally for Medical Research on Sept. 16-17.

Ryder Roark and his family went to the capitol to ask Congress to invest in the National Institute of Health, which is the world’s largest medical funding source, an American Heart Association press release states. Ryder was the youngest survivor to attend the rally.

When Ryder was 4, doctors discovered that he had a coarctation of the aorta, according to the release. This is caused by a too-narrow aorta that makes the heart to work harder to pump blood, enlarging the heart. Ryder had to have an emergency surgery to open his aorta.

After healing, Ryder and his twin brother, Rowe, became volunteers for the American Heart Association.

Cardiovascular disease is the nation’s top — and most costly — killer, the release states. The NIH spends about four percent of its budget on heart research. However, the organization has lost about 20 percent of its purchasing power during the last decade due to medical inflation, the release states.

At the rally, Ryder and his family had a congressional visit with Congressman Steve Womack, who represents Arkansas’ third congressional district.  He also met Senators John Boozman and John McCain.