McDuffie County residents will be showing just how big their hearts are as they don tennis shoes and prepare to hit the pavement for the annual Heart Walk this Saturday at Thomson Middle School.
Families and children may attend the event, and officials plan to line up a face painting artist for the morning.
The walk, under the direction of Honorary Chair Luther Welsh, will begin at 9:15 a.m. and has a goal of raising $40,000 for research and education on heart disease. This year residents will be walking in memory of Mary Knox McNeill who was a fixture at the annual Heart Walk effort for many years. She was an active member of the heart board and was involved in other worthy community efforts, said Carolyn Gilbert, Chamber of Commerce director.
"We really miss her," she said.
Local residents who turn out to walk in support of the American Heart Association will be joining 750,000 walkers from across the country dedicated to raising funds to fight heart disease and stroke, the number one and three killers in America, said Patricia Rinker, regional director for the American Heart Association.
Across Georgia, $13 million was raised last year for research. Of that, $5.1 million went to programs at the Medical College of Georgia "right down the road" in Augusta, said Coker Gamble, senior regional director of the American Heart Association who spoke to the Thomson Rotary Club Feb. 3.
"Seventy-five percent of every dollar goes to research. That is the way we make the biggest impact," Ms. Gamble said.
Research leads to better, more rewarding lives for those of all ages from children not yet born to ailing heart patients waiting for surgery or transplants.
In addition, research has revealed such facts as migraine headaches in women being a predictor of strokes later in life, Ms. Gamble noted.
The Heart Walk also funds education programs in schools and hospitals with the goal of informing people about risk factors.
This weekend's Heart Walk will bring together a variety of individuals walking for different reasons. Some walk in memory of a loved one who suffered from cardiovascular disease, while others walk in general support of research and educational programs. Still others walk as "Red Cap Survivors," celebrating how they are fighting back against heart disease.