The McDuffie County Heart Walk Saturday didn't skip a beat with approximately 200 participants and perfect weather. The walkers met in the Thomson Middle School parking lot, then trekked three miles through the Hickory Hill Subdivision for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's annual fundraiser event.
The attendance increased from last year's event, which took place on a cold and rainy day.
"First of all, thank God it's not raining," Debbie Jones said to the crowd during the opening ceremony. "It's a beautiful day for us here."
The event brought in $31,000 from 17 teams, which is a $3,000 increase over last year's event. The 2007 goal for McDuffie County was $38,000.
"So we didn't hit goal, but we are above last year," said Patricia Rinker, the regional director for AHA/ASA. "That's a step in the right direction, that's for sure. We are making progress, and that's all we want."
The top walkers were Sheryl Fuller, Ethel Roberson and Danny Hedgepeth. The top teams were McDuffie Regional Medical Center, Milliken Kingsley Plant, First Baptist Church and Springfield Baptist Church. The other participating teams were: Abigail's On Main, Allstate Danny Hedgepeth Agency, Augusta Technical College, City of Thomson, First Bank, Georgia Power, Jimmy and Dena's Bodyshop, McDuffie County Health Department, Milsco Manufacturing, Pine Grove Baptist Church, SunTrust Bank, Thomson High School Beta Club and Vanderhorst CYF.
In addition to helping a good cause, Ms. Rinker said participants bringing in more than $250 received additional prizes.
According to the AHA/ASA website, coronary heart disease is the America's single leading cause of death. Stroke follows close behind, being the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious disability.
This accounts for the high level of participation from the McDuffie hospital.
"Of course we are all about preventing heart disease or stroke," Mrs. Jones, who is also the public relations director for MRMC, said.
Mary Lynn Raley and her two young granddaughters, Abbi and Maggie Huff, were not part of a team, but walked to honor family members who had experienced heart disease. Mrs. Raley said her father had heart disease. Also, her first cousin has a child who was born with heart problems and had been through two heart surgeries before he was two years old. Mrs. Raley said the boy is now grown and in college.
Local survivors of heart disease were given a red cap signifying them as survivors and recognized in a special ceremony prior to the walk.
Following the walk, participants enjoyed water donated by Georgia Power Company, juice donated by Ms. Rinker, fresh fruit donated by Bi-Lo and Scramblers donated by Krystal.
For more information on McDuffie County's Heart Walk, visit www.mcduffiecountyheartwalk.kintera.org.