Heart Walk draws hundreds to Antrim park

Cheryl Sobun For Echo Pilot
Participants lined up for the start the American Heart Association’s Mason Dixon Heart Walk Sunday at Antrim Township Community Park.

More than 300 people soldiered through the heat Sunday to raise awareness for heart health and to raise money for the American Heart Association at the 2017 Mason Dixon Heart Walk.

Despite the unseasonably hot autumn day, with the temperature pushing 90, old and young; survivors and those walking in someone’s memory; individuals, families, and corporate teams; parents with strollers; and even about a dozen dogs began their trek at 1:30 p.m. in the Antrim Township Community Park.

The walk is an annual event, and this year’s goal is $145,000, according to Theresa Manzi, development director for the American Heart Association and Heart Walk director. The American Heart Association has 30 days from the event to collect money towards the goal, she said. Individuals and companies can make donations online at www.heart.org/masondixonwalk.

Manzi said she was pleased with the turnout of walkers, which was slightly more than last year’s event.

“I’m happy with it. I’m happy that people were able to brave the heat and support the community and the American Heart Association and the healthy for good movement,” said Manzi.

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States and stroke is the number five killer, she said in her pep talk before the walk commenced.

“By walking with us today, you are a part of the American Heart Association’s mission. Walking is itself an important step in the fight against heart disease and stroke. As you’re walking today, think about one small health change that you can make in your daily routine. Consider eating healthier, sleeping more, and increasing your physical activity,” said Manzi, who added that just 20 minutes of walking a day and eating a variety of colored vegetables can go a long way toward better heart health.

As participants waited for the walk to begin, no one seemed daunted by the heat. Everyone was smiling, taking pictures and drinking lots of water.

“I think it’s a great event,” said walker Shani Gadwaw, nurse practitioner and Waynesboro resident who was there with her Shiloh shepherd, Shawnee, and her team of 10 nurses from Summit Cardiology. “That’s what we do every day [help patients], and it’s important that they know we support them, even when we’re not in the office.”

Kara Richardson of Waynesboro and member of team Beck Manufacturing, a company that makes pipes, said this was her first year participating, and she was walking for her grandparents.

“Both of my grandparents died from heart attacks,” she said.

“We walk for my grandfather who passed away,” said Emily Taber of Waynesboro who was there with her mother, Marie Jones, 19-month-old daughter, Rowan, and 2-year-old Rottweiler, Roxy. The three generations, from Waynesboro, were walking with team Citibank.

John Donzella of Chambersburg was a volunteer manning the registration booth with his dad, John Joseph Donzella, a 93-year-old World War II veteran and survivor of a quadruple bypass in 1989. John Joseph did not participate in the walk, but he smiled as he rattled off the date of his bypass, April 10. The two handed out red caps to heart attack survivors and white caps to stroke survivors in addition to 2017 Mason Dixon Heart Walk pins. Those who come to the walk every year collect the pins, John said.

“Some people have eight to nine pins on their hats,” he said.

The sponsors of the event included Citi, Meritus Health, Patriot Federal Credit Union, Volvo Construction Equipment, UPMC Pinnacle, Beck Manufacturing, Summit Health, Keystone Health, Fulton County Medical Center, Antietam Cable Television Inc., 104.7 WAYZ, 101.5 Bob Rocks, 92.1 Hits FM, and ESPN Radio.