Liver diesease affects roughly 30 million people in this country. A Palisade man, who beat the disease, says he wants to help others do the same.
Michael Hartman says the past six years have been some of the best of his life -- mainly because he has been around to live them. Hartman suffered from hepatitis C, a disease responsible for killing 8,000 to 10,000 people every year, and was in desperate need of a liver transplant. Five years after putting his name on a wait list, he got his wish.
"It was a lifesaving gift of life," said Hartman.
In 2004, nearly 18,000 Americans were on the wait list for a new liver. 1300 of them died while they were waiting.
Hartman calls himself a lucky guy, and says since he got his life back, he wanted to do something to help others reach that end result too. That's when he heard about the American Liver Foundation's "Liver Life Walk."
"I always wondered some way that I could give back for everything that was given to me," said Hartman. "I thought, well this is a perfect opportunity."
Each year the organization holds a 5K walk in Denver to honor liver disease survivors and raise money for research and awareness programs.
Hartman decided the best way he could help was to form a Western Slope team. Last year, he and his family walked for the first time and raised thousands of dollars along the way.
"We've all been excited the last week to get this going," said Hartman.
Sunday, the Western Slope Walkers were back in Denver doing it all over. And they're asking for the community's help. The group hopes to raise $5,000 for the foundation by the end of the year.
"They could be saving someone or many people's lives by donating because it goes directly to research," said Hartman."
With thousands of lives on the line, he says it's a cause he hopes the Grand Valley will get behind.
For more information on how you can help fight liver disease, click on the link below.