The Okaloosa Walton Heart Walk takes place this year on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, with festivities beginning at 8:00 a.m. and the walk beginning at 9:00 a.m.
The American Heart Association is inviting the community to get moving and focus on improving health, all while helping to defeat heart disease and stroke.
- Attendees join more than a million Heart Walk Heroes in more than 300 locations across the country, funding the kind of breakthrough science that saves lives every day.
- Our local “Heart Walk” usually has a turnout of about a thousand people.
“We have been doing Heart Walk in Okaloosa & Walton counties for many, many years, and it is a really fun community event open to anyone and everyone,” explains Inger Berg, Senior Director of the Florida Panhandle American Heart Association. “The whole point of Heart Walk is to encourage people to get some physical activity, and we focus on walking because it is the easiest form of cardiovascular exercise.”
Companies, teams, and individuals can register to walk on owheartwalk.org and specify their personal fundraising goals.
- “People who participate do some fundraising for us through our Heart Walk website and the Heart Walk app,” explains Berg. “It’s one of our cornerstone events and a way for us to raise money to fund our mission.”
The money raised from the Heart Walk goes toward:
- Innovative research that leads to new treatments and cures.
- Community education – Teaching us how to live healthier with proven, science-based tips and information on how to eat smart, add color, move more and be well.
- Professional education – The patient standards of care and treatments are always changing, dependent on those research outcomes.
“We want to make sure that cardiologists and neurologists and people who are taking care of our heart and stroke patients in the community have the most up-to-date information and can provide the best care possible,” says Berg.
The local Association has a goal of raising $125,000 through this year’s Heart Walk. So far, they have raised a little more than $95,000. Berg says that those who contribute money to the event are doing so because they firmly believe in the mission.
“They may have been personally impacted by heart disease or stroke, either themselves or a family member,” she said. “It’s just so important to them and close to their heart.”
Festivities will begin at 8am with a DJ playing music geared to get people pumped up. Walkers will warm up with the Cupid Shuffle, and there will be a short presentation to talk about why everyone is together that day.
- The walk will begin at 9 am.
The walk itself is a non-competitive 5K. “We get people who are training and want to run a 5K, come out and run it, but there’s no medal if you finish first,” Berg laughs. “You don’t need special equipment, you don’t have to train to do it, and almost everyone can walk a little bit.”
Okaloosa Gas District is the Survivor Tribute sponsor this year.
“Attendees can write a note on our tribute tree for themselves or a loved one who is or has been impacted by heart disease or stroke,” added Berg.
“For many years, our support of the Heart Walk has furthered the Association’s mission for a community with healthier lives,” says Jenni Brunson, Public Relations Specialist for Okaloosa Gas District. “The annual contribution Okaloosa Gas District gives the Okaloosa-Walton Heart Association is on behalf of all our employees, customers, and community members ever affected by heart disease or stroke,” continued Brunson.
There will be additional activities spread across various tents with participation by other community organizations.
- Other tents include a kids’ zone and a selfie tent with a photo backdrop where people can take selfies and post them to the event Facebook page using the hashtag #okaloosawaltonheartwalk.
- Survivors of heart disease or stroke can get a survivor ball cap, and you can get a pin to add to your hat if you are a returning participant.
Child survivors will be given an awesome superhero cape. “Heart defects are the most common birth defect in the United States,” Berg explains. “About 40,000 babies are born every year with a heart defect.”
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This year’s event is right before the week of Thanksgiving, a bit later than it is normally held. The goal is to still get residents to head out on Saturday morning and stretch their legs before they get in the car to drive to see family.
To participate, you can sign up even as late as Saturday morning at www.OWHeartWalk.org.