Matter of the heart: Roberts’ first 5K walk successful

Published 12:48 pm Saturday, July 15, 2017

Video interviews from participants and celebrities on Twitter @ICMurrellPANews

For Stanley Ballou, the walk was personal.

His son Justin, 30, is rehabilitating from a heart attack last month caused by blockage of the main artery. Justin Ballou was a four-year basketball player at Port Arthur Memorial and is now a junior high coach in Austin.

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“For that age, it’s really an abnormal thing to happen as far as the blockage,” Stanley Ballou said. “He and his wife are very healthy. Both of them are teachers.”

Ballou said his son and daughter-in-law were working out at the YMCA in Austin when Justin’s heart attack occurred during a 5-minute break from a pickup basketball game.

“They eat right,” Stanley said. “They don’t drink. They don’t smoke. He was a starting point guard at Memorial for four years.”

Ballou, like 160 others, rose and shone with what little sunlight peaked through the Port Arthur clouds on Saturday morning and took part in Elandon Roberts’ 5K Heart Walk. The event raised awareness of heart disease.

It was the first charity event for Roberts, a 2012 Memorial graduate who’s heading into his second year with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots as a linebacker.

“We had a great turnout, and next year we look to build on it,” Roberts said. “… One thing about first annual events, it’s a lot of words of mouth. So, we have a lot of people talking about how good of an event it was and hopefully next year, we can get the whole parking lot filled.”

Ballou said his son wanted to participate in the walk but was undergoing rehab Friday.

A 7-on-7 high school football tournament featuring some NFL players as celebrity coaches was to take place after the walk at Memorial Stadium, but constant lightning that followed heavy rain in Port Arthur forced its cancellation.

“The most important thing for the day was the heart walk,” Roberts said.

Antonio Cooper, an assistant basketball and baseball coach at Memorial, was among the participants supporting a former Titan’s cause.

“I actually got there [to coach], I want to say, two years after he graduated, but I’ve been following him,” said Cooper, who finished a year ahead of Justin Ballou from Memorial. “I’m very good friends with the [Roberts] family. It’s been real good. He’s a great kid and very, very hard worker, as everybody knows. So, it’s pretty fun.”



Roberts, 23, lost a 42-year-old aunt to heart disease just a couple of months ago. His grandmother also died from it.

They’re big reasons why Roberts established a foundation to benefit research of heart disease and spread awareness of it. Roberts first announced his foundation and the charity events when he was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast Sports Hall of Fame on June 26.

Roberts’ father Eli helped him determine the 5-kilometer path that started and ended at Memorial Stadium. The participants went down 25th Street and Angelle Drive up to Gulfway Drive and straight onto Dryden Road before hitting the homestretch to Jefferson Drive into the stadium.

“We wanted everybody to go in a big circle, but we wanted everybody to end up where we started from,” Eli Roberts said. “We made it pretty simple.”

Saturday’s walk met Eli Roberts’ expectations of participation.

“We know it’s going to grow and get bigger,” the 25-year Army veteran said. “We’re going to do it again next year and we’re going to get the message out early.



Houston-based rapper Paul Wall said he didn’t know much about heart disease upon visiting the Heart Walk.

“We get caught up and think we’re supposed to know everything. We have to walk around and act like we know it all,” said Wall, a three-time Ozone Award winner and one-time Grammy nominee for 2007’s “Grillz.” “A lot of times, we miss out on a lot. Sometimes, we’ve got to do research ourselves. We’ve got to constantly learn about different diseases and things that affect us.”
Stanley Ballou isn’t sure why a heart attack struck an otherwise healthy 30-year-old son, but he says he’s blessed that no other health problems arose.

“Thank God everything came out good,” Ballou said. “It’s just like it never happened.”

Wall, whom Elandon Roberts called his “No. 1 support” Saturday, is happy the Heart Walk was launched successfully so no one has to be affected by a disease known as a silent killer.

“We don’t learn about it unless it’s too late, so it’s great to be a part of this. I’m happy to be here and I’ll be here next year, too.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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