1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States can be attributed to heart disease, approximately 600,000 people per year. Some of these deaths could have been prevented through diet, nutrition, exercise and routine physicals.
This lack of awareness has lead to the annual Washtenaw County Heart Walk and 5k Run. Previously held at Washtenaw Community College, it will be hosted by Eastern Michigan University for the first time Saturday, May 10.
Gretchen Leigh Ward, Director of Service EMU, helped bring the charity event to EMU.
“This is the first year it is happening on campus,” Ward said. “Typically it is held at Washtenaw Community College. We have participated the last eight years. This year the American Heart Association has worked with Eastern to move it to our campus.”
The AHA is trying to provide a family and community driven atmosphere to bring people to the event, and educate them while they are enjoying the festivities of the day.
The theme of this year’s walk and run is “Be Heroic.”
“It’s a superhero theme,” Tara Tomcsik said, AHA Corporate Events Director for Washtenaw County Campaigns. “But we are taking notice to real heroes as well… There will be tons of people dressed up [for] costume contests.”
In addition to the costume contests EMU will be providing entertainment, refreshments, a children’s play area, free health screenings as well as tributes and memorials.
The grounds open at 8:00 a.m. and opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. The 5K run starts at 9:00 a.m. and the walk is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
The AHA goal is to raise $165,000.00 for research and EMU has set a goal to contribute $25,000.00 to the total.
Part of the fun of the fundraiser is the friendly competition to see who can raise the most money for the charity. Currently, the University of Michigan and EMU are the two top fundraisers, and are neck and neck in donations.
To register for the event, go to washtenawheartwalk.org, and click on the register button. There a supporter can join a team and then that team and the supporter get credit for all the donations they raise for the charity.
EMU Provost Kim Schatzel is chairing the event.
“It’s a wonderful cause of course,” Schatzel said. “We are able to showcase the campus and we are expecting anywhere up to 2,000 people participating in the walk as well as the 5k.”
To increase awareness around campus leading up the walk and 5k run EMU has had three walks around the grounds to prepare for the actual event and plans to have two more on April 24 and May 1.
“I led a walk two weeks ago, and last week Vice President Turner and Athletic Director Heather Lyke lead a walk.” Schatzel said.
Groups and individuals across EMU each have contributed and tried to promote the walk and run, but none as uniquely as EMU student Ryan Huntington who started a Facebook page entitled “Save it, or Shave it.”
Huntington, who sports a 14-inch long beard, decided to put his beard up for charity. Donors can contribute to the “save it” fund or the “shave it” fund. Whichever category has raised the most money by May 10 Huntington will follow.
Multiple corporations and community leaders around Washtenaw County are working with EMU and the AHA to make the fundraiser a success.
“One of the things we like to do is get involved,” Schatzel said. “We were really happy to partner with such a wonderful cause.”
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