McDuffie County walkers will remember a beloved community volunteer while also raising money to support the American Heart Association at the annual Heart Walk scheduled Saturday, Feb. 26 at Thomson Middle School.
"This year's walk will honor Mary McNeill who was an incredible, incredible volunteer for the heart association for many, many years," said Coker Gamble, senior regional director of the American Heart Association.
Coker Gamble talks to the Thomson Rotary Club about the American Heart Association's local efforts.
As teams take to the pavement, walkers will seek to raise $40,000 for research and education programs.
"Seventy-five percent of every dollar goes to research. That is the way we make the biggest impact," Ms. Gamble said.
February is Heart Month and offers a good time to focus on four areas involving heart disease, Ms. Gamble told the Thomson Rotary Club last Thursday. The annual Heart Walk helps support advocacy programs, research, communications and fundraising, she told the Thomson Rotary Club last Thursday.
Advocacy efforts have led to new legislation that has opened the door for 500,000 people to receive implanted defibrillators which improve the quality of their lives, she said.
Research has helped detect and even cure heart defects before children are born. In addition, research has led to the approval of an artificial heart as an interim measure in treatment, and has helped improve drugs for stroke patients. Out of $13 million raised in the state of Georgia, 5.1 million goes to research programs at the Medical College of Georgia.
"It's incredible we have this research at our back door," Ms. Gamble said.
Red ribbons hung around town last week were reminders of the dangers of heart disease, especially to women.
Money raised for heart programs also helps with communication efforts, and educates the public about risk factors, she said.
Although the Heart Walk is two weeks away, "It's never too late to be part of it," said Patricia Rinker, regional director for the American Heart Association.
"You can change tomorrow today by being an ideal team captain," she said.
Teams of 10 walkers have a goal of each person raising $100. One of the walkers is encouraged to raise $1,000, Ms. Rinker said.
"The money raised through the heart walk supports local campaigns such as educational programs in schools and hospitals," she said.
McDuffie County participants will join 750,000 other walkers expected to join in this year.