HOUSTON -

More than 30,000 people gathered at Reliant Park early Saturday morning to walk for a good cause.

The Houston Heart Walk kicked off around 9:30 a.m. with people of all ages walking in the fight against heat disease and stroke.

"It's all about individual team captains signing up friends and family members to support them in the heart walk," said Ryan Lance, chairman of the event.

The walk is the biggest fund raising event for the American Heart Association, officials said. It brings together survivors and others who have seen the effects of heart disease.

Donavan Edwards is one of those people. He came to the walk in memory of his father.

"He had a stroke when I was in the fourth grade [and] sort of recovered," said Edwards. "Unfortunately, he had another my freshman year in high school."

According to the American Heart Association, 29% of Houston residents are obese, and more than 16% of adults smoke. In 2011, more than 6,000 people died from cardiovascular disease and another 1,400 from stroke.

Local 2 is a proud sponsor. Dominique Sachse emceed Saturday's event, and Rachel McNeil emceed the walk up north, helping bring to light the strides made in the fight against one of Houston's biggest health threats.

The American Heart Association's fundraising goal for 2012 was $2.2 million, all of which would go toward research, education and programs to help fight heart disease and stroke, officials said.

For more information, visit the American Heart Association's web site.