On Saturday, May 19, about 120 Eastern Michigan University faculty, staff, students and their families, including university President Susan Martin, gathered at Washtenaw Community College for the annual Ann Arbor American Heart Association Heart Walk. This year’s EMU team raised more than $12,000 for heart and stroke research, according to the American Heart Association website.
The Ann Arbor walk is just one of more than 300 across the country, organized by the American Heart Association to raise funds and awareness for heart and stroke research. The American Heart Association website states that more than a million people participate in Heart Walks each year, with millions of dollars raised.
EMU’s fundraising success earned the team second place in group rankings, with team co-chair Kay Woodiel ranked fifth on the list of top fundraisers for the event.
Woodiel and Gretchen Ward have been co-chairing the EMU Heart Walk team for the past five
years. Ward is the director of Service EMU in the Student Center, and Woodiel teaches health, physical education, dance and recreation.
The EMU team is made up of smaller individual teams, Ward explained. “We try to get students from each college to participate, as well as the people who work in Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. Anyone from EMU is welcome to walk with us. Each team falls under the EMU Team, and we all work to raise funds for the American Heart Association.”
For the last few years, the university has sponsored the Kid Zone, a mix of games and trivia, along with a bouncy house and a bungee jumping booth. The Kid Zone is run by volunteers made up of students from the Health Promotion and Human Performance Program at EMU as well as student organizations.
One of the volunteers, EMU student Emily Van Wormer, explained that the coordinated activities are about more than giving kids a bouncy house and telling them to jump around.
“There haven’t been a ton of kids at the trivia and activity station, but the kids who have come know a lot, are excited to play trivia, and I am really surprised at how much these young kids know about staying healthy and active.”
Marvin Gundy, a graduate student, volunteered through his research and design class. Gundy has both a son and a daughter, and is trying to teach them how to be healthy. “Everyone talks about all of these big exercise regiments, and people really don’t have to do all of that. The American Heart Association showed us that today. I teach my kids how to be healthy through what I do. How could I tell them to do something that I am not doing? I wouldn’t bring foods into the house for them to eat that I wouldn’t want to eat.”
Another EMU volunteer, Jessica Clay, stressed the importance of events like the Heart Walk. “Things like this are very important to promote awareness and get the news out there about heart health, and staying healthy and staying active when it comes to taking care of yourself. It’s important, especially for the kids, teaching them early about heart health.”