“Heart Walk” to Honor Survivors, Raise Much Needed Support

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Supporters from last year’s Heartwalk event.

Supporters from last year’s Heartwalk event.

With all the attention being paid to breast cancer awareness during the month of October, it could be easy to overlook another important cause and accompanying event this month. The American Heart Association is holding one of their two annual signature fundraisers on Saturday, October 30 – the three mile “2010 Start! Roanoke Regional Heart Walk” at Green Hill Park in Salem.

To add to the festivities, there will also be a costume contest for all ages. Elizabeth Vail, area representative at the American Heart Association, said that they will again be following the tradition of honoring several “survivors who will be recognized before the walk and awarded red caps” which they will wear as they lead off the event.

The Heart Walk has a goal of $350,000 which actually includes three area walks: one each in Roanoke, Southern Virginia and the New River Valley. The Green Hill event will conclude the region’s fundraiser which has raised $236,000 so far. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with the walk starting at 10 a.m.

According to the Heart Walk website, the walk “raises funds to fight the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers—heart disease and stroke.”  In addition, the event will pay tribute to lost loved ones; honor survivors of heart disease and stroke; encourage healthy behavior changes in adults and highlight the successful fundraising efforts of individuals and companies and celebrate individuals and companies who have made significant changes to lead a heart-healthy life. According to Vail, it is sobering to note that while “breast cancer kills 1 in 32 women, heart disease kills 1 in 2 women.”

The American Heart Association also holds an annual fundraiser in the spring, the “Heart Ball,” which is a much-anticipated event held at the Hotel Roanoke. The gala evening includes dinner along with a silent and live auction. The 2011 Heart Ball will be held on Saturday, April 30.  Vail points out that “over $500,000 was awarded last year in research dollars to researchers with meritorious grant applications here in Southwest VA at Virginia Tech alone, not even including dollars awarded to other research locations around the state of Virginia.”

The Association’s many efforts are summed up in the testimonials of survivors and their families; the site describes native Roanoker baby “Laine” who nearly died at age one from a congenital heart condition. Fortunately, she was diagnosed in time and corrective surgery was performed, which was successful thanks in part to the research and funds invested by the American Heart Association.  The Heart Walk will help ensure those success stories continue.

For information on heart attack and stroke warning signs, or to sign up for the walk, visit heart.org.   The local chapter of the American Heart Association is located at 4504 Starkey Rd., SW; phone (540) 989-2810.

By Cheryl Hodges
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