Local Heart Walk to raise funds and awareness


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

On Saturday May 4, the 2019 Gadsden Heart Walk will be held at the Gadsden Mall at 8 a.m. The walk starts at 9 a.m. Participants will be walking in the James D. Martin Wildlife Park.

The Gadsden Heart Walk is a free event that aims to raise funds for the American Heart Association as well as raise awareness for heart health in the local community. So far, about 800 participants are scheduled to attend.

As a nod to “May the Fourth be with you,” the event has a Star Wars theme.

“You don’t have to go far to meet someone who has been impacted by cardiovascular disease or stroke,” said GRMC Chief Operating Officer and 2019 Gadsden Heart Walk Chairman Josh Hester. “That’s really what American Heart is all about. We do raise money, that is one of the big things that we do, but ultimately it’s about getting people more aware of what’s going on from a heart health standpoint.”

The Gadsden Heart Walk kicked off its fundraising campaign in January, setting a goal of $160,000. The goal is well on its way to being reached, with about $120,000 raised so far. The campaign also aimed to spread awareness about heart diseases.

“I think we could all learn more and more about what’s going on from a heart health standpoint,” said Hester.

The Gadsden Heart Walk also serves as a way to bring the community together to discuss this important issue.

“The Heart Walk is all about bringing people together,” said Hester. “It’s all about trying to get them engaged with others in the community that have been impacted by cardiac issues. It gives us an opportunity acknowledge those that we’ve lost because of cardiac diseases. It also gives us an opportunity to celebrate those that have survived.”

Small amounts of daily exercise can have a positive impact on heart health. Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce the risk of heart disease. Every hour of brisk walking can increase life expectancy by two hours.

The lead sponsors for the Gadsden Heart Walk are Gadsden Regional Medical Center, Encompass Health and the Gadsden Mall.

GRMC Marketing Director Leslie Edmundson said that it just made sense for the hospital to become involved in the Heart Walk, as they serve many of the locals impacted by heart disease.

“We see a lot of patients that come into our ER and our Cath Lab through physicians in the community,” said Hester. “Our goal is to take care of them.”

Gadsden Regional has partnered with American Heart to make sure it has high standards of heart care, including chest pain accreditation and a Gold Plus designation from the American Heart Association for its standards of care. To evaluate heart health risks, GRMC’s website has a free assessment people can take.

“It only makes sense that we would be involved,” said Hester.

To register for the walk or make a donation, visit gadsdenheartwalk.org. For more information, contact Heidi Darbo at 256-458-3782 or heidi.darbo@heart.org.

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