PLATTSBURGH - The annual Plattsburgh Heart Walk is one week away, and it's one day Julie M. Rowe has circled on her calendar well in advance.
The 43-year-old Ellenburg Depot resident has been busily collecting sponsorships for her participation in the walk, scheduled for next Saturday, Sept. 26. Currently, Rowe is the top individual fundraiser, collecting more than $3,600 and surpassing her fundraising goal of $2,000 nearly two times over.
Rowe began her participation in the Plattsburgh Heart Walk four years ago as a member of the Wyeth Research - Chazy Team, of which she serves as captain today. Though she has never suffered from a heart condition, when Rowe began her involvement, it was because she simply wanted to give back to the community.
"Each time I heard of an individual that had suffered a heart attack or stroke, or passed at a young age, so unexpectedly, I found that I felt helpless," said Rowe. "This is just one way I can stop feeling helpless."
Since Rowe first became involved, the amount of money she has been able to raise has grown. The first goal she set for herself was $1,000. When she surpassed that, the next year she set her goal for $2,000. When she surpassed that, she set the bar $1 higher for the following year because, as she said, "every dollar counts."
Raising the money hasn't been easy, but Rowe has done it through bake sales, pasta sales, raffles, book fairs and even golf and volleyball tournaments.
"The more and more I got involved, the more passionate I became with meeting and exceeding the goal I had set," said Rowe.
As Rowe has become more involved, she's managed to get others involved as well.
"This year, we have most of the same team members, but have encouraged a few more to walk with us," said Rowe, noting there are 11 walkers on her team this year. "I value the networking that I have been able to do [as team captain] and find ways to reach out to some of my fellow teams, either to run events together or support their efforts. "