More than 500 Mercer and Lawrence County residents are expected to raise their heart rates, awareness and funds for the American Heart Association’s Mercer/Lawrence Heart Walk.
The annual event is scheduled for Sept.21 at Pearson Park in Neshannock Township. The festival area will open at 9 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 9:45 a.m. and the Heart Walk kicking off at 10 a.m. Lindsey Watson from WYTV will be the emcee.
The Mercer/Lawrence Heart Walk is a community event with something for everyone. There will be a kid’s zone, pet area, stretching station and gifts for survivors. The American Heart Association is also offering free blood pressure screenings at the walk. There will be a dietician on site as well, offering free body fat analyses, BMI screenings and education.
The walk aims to raise $80,000 dollars to fight heart disease and stroke, America’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, respectively. Each day, about 2,150 Americans die from heart disease from cardiovascular disease — the No. 1 killer in the United States. Stroke, the No. 5 killer and a leading cause of severe disability, claims the lives of nearly 219,000 each year.
Regionally, heart disease and stroke claim 1,100 lives every year. However, in the last year alone, the American Heart Association has trained thousands of community members in CPR, reached thousands of Mercer and Lawrence County residents through blood pressure screenings and funded $22.3 million dollars for research. At the state level, the American Heart Association helped pass Act 7, which requires that every high school student in Pennsylvania be taught how to administer Hands-Only CPR and how to use an AED.
“UPMC is the proud sponsor of this year’s Heart Walk efforts and also plays an important role in building heart healthier lives in our community,” said Dr. Elizabeth Piccione, cardiologist and chair of this year’s Heart Walk. “We encourage everyone in the community to lace up their shoes, create a team and walk with us in an effort to raise awareness and help decrease the burden of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”
The Mercer/Lawrence Heart Walk is among 300 Heart Walks held in communities across the nation. Nearly 1 million people walk each year walk for a singular mission, to cure heart disease and stroke. Since the inception of the Heart Walk in 1993, mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke have plummeted by 45 percent. Each walker and each donation has helped to transform health statistics into lives saved, but there is more work to be done.
The Heart Walk is open to the community as all are welcome to participate and change the story of heart disease and stroke in Mercer and Lawrence counties. Those who walk are committed to funding research that keeps hearts beating.
“What makes UPMC so passionate about walking is that the funds raised go to fueling hearts. Real human hearts,” Piccione said. “We know that gratification isn’t about what you get when you give, it is the satisfaction of knowing that your dollar isn’t just going in your back pocket...your dollar is going to change a life.”
For more information or to register for the Mercer/Lawrence Heart Walk, visit Heart.org/MercerLawrenceWalk.