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Heart Walk Draws More than 1,500

More than 1,500 area residents turned out Saturday morning to the JALC campus to participate in the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk. (Logan Media Services photo)

More than 1,500 area residents turned out Saturday morning to the JALC campus to participate in the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk. (Logan Media Services photo)

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Everywhere one turned, there were smiles to be found. Children were holding balloons and playing games. Dog owners were offering treats to their canine companions. Family and friends chatted up a lively conversation. There were clowns and mascots walking the grounds, heart-healthy foods and musical entertainment galore, all amid a sea of red, the color of choice for the American Heart Association.

Saturday marked the date of the annual Heart Walk for the AHA’s Southern Illinois chapter, hosted again this year by John A. Logan College. More than 1,500 were in attendance.

JALC President Dr. Mike Dreith and his wife, Carol, were observing their first Heart Walk in the region.

“We are very happy to be here and proud that our college can be the host for this event,” Dreith said. “I’ve been to many events in my time as an administrator over the years and I can’t recall anything quite like this. I kind of regret not bringing our Basset Hound with us now, after seeing so many fine dogs here today. Of course, I probably would have to carry him half the way.”

Dreith said events like the Heart Walk are exactly the kind of events the college should promote and host.

SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng (left) goes over some program details with AHA representative Beth Walker Saturday at the Heart Walk. (Logan Media Services photo)

SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng (left) goes over some program details with AHA representative Beth Walker Saturday at the Heart Walk. (Logan Media Services photo)

“The American Heart Association is obviously a great cause,” he said. “Everybody in one form or another is touched by the disease. We’re glad to play a small role in raising money for research to help fight against it.”

SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng serves as the chairman of the AHA chapter in Southern Illinois.

“What a great turnout! I’m so pleased the weather cooperated for us today,” Cheng said. “Beth Walker (AHA regional director) has done a great job of organizing this event. Heart health is something we all have to pay great attention to and events like this help raise awareness of heart disease.”

Walker said she couldn’t believe how many area businesses put together teams to walk – some in the memory of a family member, friend or co-worker who died of heart disease.

“Not only has this been a great turnout today, possibly even a record turnout, but this has also been another great fundraising year. We don’t have the final numbers in yet, but we may be approaching a record in that respect, too.”

Greg Stettler, one of Logan’s fundraising captains for AHA, said he got involved with the charity more than a decade ago because there is a history of heart disease in his family and because the college is an AHA training center in the region.

“We do CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and basic life support classes here and have more than 100 instructors affiliated with us,” he said. “There are also a number of AHA research grants funneled through SIUC. There is still some money we haven’t turned in yet, but I think the college has raised over $7,000 this year.”

Sharon Clark of Carbondale sang the National Anthem to kick off the festivities at Saturday’s Heart Walk. She is a two-time heart transplant recipient.

“My first one was 11 years ago and my second one was about 11 months ago,” she said. “I think having a new heart makes you see life in a different way. At least in my case, I appreciate each and every day a little more. I take the time to smell the roses, so to speak. Two organ donors saved my life. I am also an organ donor and I encourage others to register as a donor, too. It’s the greatest gift we can give another – the gift of life.”

AHA research indicates that nearly 2,400 Americans die from cardiovascular disease daily, or one every 37 seconds.

For information on making a contribution to AHA locally, call Walker at 983-3234.