Heart walk raises $100,000

Paul Davis of Harrington tosses a beach ball into the air as he walks the perimeter of Delaware Tech Terry Campus in Dover Saturday with hundreds of other heart healthy activists during the 2015 Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Paul Davis of Harrington tosses a beach ball into the air as he walks the perimeter of Delaware Tech Terry Campus in Dover Saturday with hundreds of other heart healthy activists during the 2015 Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — It was a great morning to take a walk, a five-kilometer walk.

More than $100,000 was raised during the 2015 Southern Delaware Heart Walk on Saturday, which the American Heart Association described as its “premier event that brings communities together to raise funds and celebrate progress in the fight against this country’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke.”

Karen Gritton holds “torches” that walkers in the Southern Delaware Heart Walk can use to honor loved ones who have been impacted by heart disease or stroke. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Karen Gritton holds “torches” that walkers in the Southern Delaware Heart Walk can use to honor loved ones who have been impacted by heart disease or stroke. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

A field of about 400 left Delaware Technical Community College’s Terry campus on a 3.1-mile journey, guided by a desire to stay healthy through exercise.

Also available were a health screening station and blood pressure tests by medical personnel donating their time on a weekend event that began at 8 a.m.

Lending a huge hand (and hundreds of feet) to the cause were Bayhealth employees, who were at least half of the registered wakers on Saturday, said John Pierson, executive director of the American Heart Association Delaware Chapter.

“Bayhealth continues to be a strong supporter and crucial component of our mission to ‘Build Healthier Communities,’” said Mr. Pierson amid a buzz of activity as participants lingered after strolling through the course.

When it came to fundraising this year, Dr. Eric Gloss said Bayhealth employees “really embraced it and took it as a challenge” to raise more than $50,000.

Selena Fry of Milford, left, and Margaret Kinney of Houston were ready for a magical walk at Saturday's Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Selena Fry of Milford, left, and Margaret Kinney of Houston were ready for a magical walk at Saturday’s Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

According to Bayhealth Heart Walk chairperson Cassandra Humphrey, the network had over 56 captains who facilitated the organization of teams in an array of departments. It served as a team building exercise for members, and was fun as well.

The “Epic Journey” team determined to have the most spirit earned a trophy and luncheon for its efforts, and Perioperative Services Director Bob McKennett won a friendly running race with a cohort as part of the fun.

Mr. Pierson described the overall event as a “combination fundraiser and having a healthy experience. People are able to come out and participate in an exercise activity while learning about the value of fitness and healthy habits.”

Approximately 50 Caesar Rodney High Junior ROTC members were on the north Dover campus before sunrise, setting up chairs, tables and tents needed to hold the event. It was junior Julie Dumont’s third time at the Heart Walk, and every time she has noticed it grow.

“It’s fun coming out seeing more and more people here every year,” Ms. Dumont said. “We have fun doing it, and it’s not just all work.”

Chad Brockbrader of Milford wears a colorful get-up for the Southern Delaware Heart Walk Saturday at Delaware Technical Community College. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Chad Brockbrader of Milford wears a colorful get-up for the Southern Delaware Heart Walk Saturday at Delaware Technical Community College. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

CR junior Travis Berger said he enjoyed getting up early and taking care of the setup process, and classmate Aidan Wilson said, “At the end of the day when we’re done it shows our dedication to the community. It’s good to see that the more elderly people don’t have to worry about moving things around and can just concentrate on what they’re here for.”

Nationwide, the Heart Walk will encompass 350 events and more than a million walkers. An event was held last weekend in Sussex County.

Battling cancer since 2004, Dover resident Kathleen Murray was wearing a pink and black outfit with a “Support the Cure” hat, and said she supported the cure for “anything.”

“Cancer, heart disease, it all comes into play,” she said.

Joining her were Centennial United Methodist Church members from Smyrna. Ms. Murray noted that “When you’re young you don’t think about your heart and health. When you’re older it all matters.”

Heart-shaped balloons were popular at the Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Heart-shaped balloons were popular at the Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Smyrna High junior James Morgan, a Clayton resident, said he was walking for his “grandpop” James Dennis, who has high blood pressure.

“It’s nice to be here, even though I’m walking in the cold,” he said. “I rather be walking in the hot sun.”

Illustrating the importance of staying active was Clayton resident Crystal Jordan, who said her blood pressure had dropped six points from start to finish of the 5K walk.

“Exercise does matter,” Ms. Jordan said. “You can walk at a nice pace and don’t have to win a race to make a difference in your life.”

Walking with the “Destiny Bound” team was Magnolia’s Darcel Carter who is addressing high blood pressure by walking three miles with other Centennial UM members twice a month after church.
“I’ve got more energy and just feel better overall,” she said.

Dr. Vincent Abbrescia, center, and his friends and family loosen up with a quick workout with the hundreds of other walkers at Saturday's Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Dr. Vincent Abbrescia, center, and his friends and family loosen up with a quick workout with the hundreds of other walkers at Saturday’s Southern Delaware Heart Walk. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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