Getting a head start on heart walk

PLATTSBURGH - The American Heart Association is hoping to raise big dollars to combat heart disease and stroke - through the annual Start! Heart Walk.

On May 27, a kick-off party for the event brought teams together to share fundraising ideas. The goal for this year is to raise $165,000 for research - through sponsorship and community fundraising. To raise money, teams have been formed in the community and through local businesses.

"Our biggest contribution comes from the walkers from community teams," said AHA executive director Ashley Edwards. "The heart and soul of the walk are the people who are walking for very personal reasons; people who walk for a friend or family member."

AHA is working with corporate teams to help "create more healthy habits and lifestyles," explained AHA senior regional director of communications Katherine McCarthy.

Julie Rowe, team captain for the Pfire Walkers, of Pfizer Inc., was the top walker during last year's event, raising more than $4,000.

"My father had died after complications of a heart condition, that's why I got involved initially," said Rowe. "The more I learned about the heart disease the more I got involved."

Rowe, who teams up with her coworkers at Pfizer, explained with recent cutbacks in the company her team hasn't been able to raise as much money as in previous years.

"It's important to reach out to those individuals [who have] been affected by heart disease. Every little bit helps," said Rowe. "Just because the economy is bad doesn't mean there aren't people who could still benefit from support."

This year's event will be held Saturday, Sept. 25, beginning at the City of Plattsburgh's Recreation Department, 52 U.S. Oval. It will include a 3-mile walk along Lake Champlain or an optional 1-mile walk, and several other events. There will also be a moving tribute to survivors of heart disease, who will be given a red cap to wear at the event.

For more information, or to take part in the Start! Heart Walk, visit www.plattsburghheartwalk.org. As of June 1, $47,016 has been raised through corporate and private donations.

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