Welcoming back AHA’s Heart Walk
Jun 19, 2014 | 651 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An old friend is returning to Bradley County on Saturday, and although her face won’t launch a thousand ships her message will warm just as many hearts, and probably more.

We speak of the return of the once popular Heart Walk to our community. Formerly recognized by participants and sponsors as the Bradley County Heart Walk, this family-friendly trek into better health now goes by the title of Tennessee Valley Heart Walk with sister events in Cleveland and Chattanooga.

Locally, the American Heart Association event is returning following an eight-year hiatus and will kick off Saturday at 9 a.m. along the ever-popular Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway at the Raider Drive park. It’s not just about the walk. The event also will feature free health screenings, a kids’ area, music, snacks and more.

Corporate sponsors are a group of familiar names: SkyRidge Medical Center, Check Into Cash, Lee University, Take Charge, The Rush-Cleveland and Jackson Furniture.

Obviously, it’s late in the game but for any who still want to get involved, there’s time. Contact Kim Enoch at 423-763-4408 or send her an email to kim.enoch@heart.org.

Chattanooga’s version of the Tennessee Valley Heart Walk is scheduled for Nov. 8 at AT&T Field.

For Cleveland area residents, why participate in Saturday’s heart-healthy diet of fun? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s really this simple: Awareness. Funding. Lifestyle change. And perhaps most importantly, commitment. To talk the talk is fine. To walk the walk is even better. But to sustain ... that’s what the Heart Walk is truly all about.

It’s about getting off the couch.

It’s about pushing away from the table.

It’s about making wise choices.

It’s about acknowledging, “I am!” It’s about declaring, “I will!”

It’s not simple. It’s not supposed to be. It’s not easy. Nobody ever said it would be.

But it’s effective. Just a few lifestyle changes can make a difference. And supporting events like Saturday’s Heart Walk in Cleveland can contribute to the growing cause.

For instance, your gift to the American Heart Association through participation and your individual and corporate sponsorships in events like the Heart Walk have given birth to some encouraging numbers.

Over the past year, donations to AHA have netted these results:

- Reduced heart disease deaths by 8.8 percent, giving millions of Americans more precious days with loved ones.

- Reduced stroke deaths by 10 percent, helping millions of Americans to live longer and healthier lives.

- Funded 980 cardiovascular research projects, making AHA the top funder of cardiovascular research outside the federal government.

- Funded 200 teaching gardens which are introducing healthy eating habits to 80,000 students who are passing along the message to parents and siblings.

- Trained 13.6 million Americans in CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular life support.

- Passed student CPR bills in 11 states; these state laws require CPR training for students prior to high school graduation.

- Implemented “Get With the Guidelines” in more than 2,000 hospitals which has dramatically improved outcomes in heart disease and stroke patients.

Want some sobering facts? Try these: 1 in 3 Americans will die of cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease and stroke will kill more people than all cancers combined. Congenital cardiovascular defects are the most common cause of infant death from birth defects.

By 2020, the AHA goal is to improve cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while also reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease by 20 percent. Once these goals have been met, 718 lives will have been saved from CVD each day and 145 lives will have been saved from stroke.

To some, the numbers might sound astronomical. But those who work the cause each day know — based on past successes — that all are doable.

One who believes is Coleman Foss, SkyRidge Medical Center CEO who signed on as this year’s Heart Walk executive leader.

Says Foss, it is not rocket science. But it is heartfelt.

Participating in Saturday’s Heart Walk is merely the first step toward assuring a future of Saturdays to come.

We encourage participation. We urge, as pop star Olivia Newton-John once sang, getting physical.

Heart walking is a step in the right direction. Staying committed is a pace into living.

We hope to see you Saturday. Load up the kids, bring a smile and wear those comfortable shoes.

The Greenway awaits.