Annual Heart Walk comes to Parkland

Alex Davidson

Staff Writer

The Heart Walk, an annual event sponsored by the American Heart Association, will be held at Parkland for the first time on Sept. 16 as a way to promote heart health among the citizens of Champaign-Urbana.

“I think the Heart Walk is a good way to raise awareness and meet new people,” says Chandra Galloway, a student at Parkland.

There are several groups that will be set up at the event to give information on how to keep your heart healthy. There will be people from the nursing program checking blood pressure. The dental health department will be giving out information about healthy teeth.

There will also be a heart complication survivor at the heart walk, as there is every year.

Once the walk begins, there will be two trails. The shorter trail is a quarter-mile trail that simply goes around Parkland. The route for the longer trail is yet to be determined.

The goal of the walk is to show how easy it is to be active.

“Walking is one of the key things you can do for your heart health,” said Sara Maxwell, wellness coordinator at Parkland and head of Parkland’s team for the Heart Walk.

The American Heart Association wants to raise awareness on how important it is to keep the heart healthy, as well show that it can be as easy as taking a walk every day.

The Heart Walk is a fundraising event, too. The event has raised nearly $16,000 of its $40,000 goal.

“Businesses around town can form teams [and] take donations,” Maxwell said. “And then those donations go to the American Heart Association.”

The majority of the donations raised will go into research and public education, both of which are important for lowering the number of deaths from cardiac complications.

“Keeping your heart healthy is really…important,” said Julee “Sky” Williams, a college student born with an atrial septal defect. “It’s really…easy to get yourself killed by [not taking care of yourself].”

According to Maxwell, there are a few easy ways to make sure your heart stays healthy, such as simply walking for 30 minutes every day. This can prevent many health issues in the heart on its own, as well as preventing conditions which may cause heart problems such as obesity.

Another large factor is dental health, which is connected to heart health more than some realize.

The Heart Walk isn’t the only event that the American Heart Association runs.

For children, they run a Jump Rope for Heart and a Hoops for Heart event. They also partner with the National Football League for the NFL Play 60 Challenge. They run CPR training courses and certification programs as a way to try to educate as many people as they can about what to do if there is an emergency.

There are a few other local sponsors this year, such as the University of Illinois, Busey Bank, Consolidated Communications and Presence Health.

Check-in for the walk is at 8 a.m., after which participants are free to visit any of the stations set up until the walk begins at 9:20 a.m.

More information on the Heart Walk at Parkland can be found on the American Heart Association’s website at heart.org. Type “heart walk” into the search bar on the top-right of the page and click on the result “Heart Walk – Find a Heart Walk Near You.” Type Parkland’s zip code—61820—into the field and click “Find Nearby Heart Walks.” Champaign’s 2017 should be the first result.