American Heart Association Celebrates 100 Years and Return of Grand Rapids Heart Walk

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The fundraising event promotes physical fitness, one of the most proactive ways to combat cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The Grand Rapids Heart Walk is making a bold comeback as part of the American Heart Association's (AHA) Centennial celebration this year. The signature event—last held in 2019—is coming to Aquinas College on Saturday, October 5, 2024 at 9 a.m. Additional exciting news is that registration is underway now for the community campaign focused on engaging local companies, their employees and the public to join the fight against heart disease and stroke!

For 100 years, the AHA has saved and improved lives, pioneered scientific discovery and advocated for healthy communities. With bold moves and support from donors, the Heart Walk saves lives by bringing friends, families, coworkers and neighbors together.

"Every walker who joins, every dollar donated, means more lives saved. More research. More people trained in CPR. More medical breakthroughs. And more lifesaving moments for hearts big and small," said Alejandro Quiroga, MD, MBA, President, Corewell Health West, who will serve as Chair of the 2024 Grand Rapids Heart Walk. "By participating and donating to Grand Rapids Heart Walk, participants are supporting the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association and safeguarding that fewer people die from stroke and heart disease."

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in West Michigan. AHA, a global force for healthier lives for all, is working with Corewell Health, along with several community sponsors, to change that.




"Together, we demonstrate our commitment to health, and honor or remember loved ones with heart disease or stroke," said Jana Siminski, executive director for AHA West Michigan. "We have raised millions of dollars to improve health and quality of life for everyone, transformed communities and significantly reduced heart disease and stroke death rates. And we're just getting started. With your help, we can keep working to ensure all people can enjoy longer, healthier lives."

Heart disease and stroke impact people in very personal life-changing ways. Through the Heart Walk, participants are invited to express, share, and be inspired by the reasons why they walk.

"I walk for Jack, so that everyone knows the lifesaving skills of Hands-Only CPR," said Gretchen Belsito, whose son was 16 when he experienced a cardiac arrest last year. "The money raised at the Heart Walk funds research that saves lives like Jack's and funded the science of CPR and continues to fund the ongoing awareness to ensure at least one person in every household has the tools they need when it counts—in the moments when someone's life is in their hands."

Since the inception of the Heart Walk, mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke have decreased by 45%. In West Michigan, the AHA is working to create a Nation of Lifesavers, aiming to ensure at least one person in every household knows the lifesaving skill of Hands-Only CPR.

The Grand Rapids Heart Walk festival and engagement area is open from 9-10:30 a.m. The main program starts at 10:30 a.m. and the walk is from 11 a.m.-noon. Everyone is encouraged to dress in their Heart Walk best and come out to move more. The Heart Walk—which is family friendly, open to the public and features a kid zone, wellness activities, music and health screenings—begins at the Aquinas College Fieldhouse, then winds through the beautiful trails on campus. AHA will provide CPR demonstrations on-site and celebrate survivors.

Participants can join Jack and help AHA keep young hearts beating by registering teams today at grandrapidsheartwalk.org. From there, participants can create personal fundraising pages, download the Heart Walk mobile app, and encourage family and friends to join.

Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.

 Photos Courtesy of the American Heart Association. 


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