Officials and guests gathered for a meeting to kick off the annual Heart Walk scheduled Feb. 26 heard a first-hand account of heart diseases and learned some techniques for improving heart health.
Honorary Chairman Luther Welsh and guest speakers Warren Karp and Don McNeill addressed the crowd at the kickoff meeting Dec. 8.
Honorary Chairman Luther Welsh talks with some of his players during the Heart Walk kick-off luncheon.
Photo by Jerrie MacIntire
Mr. McNeill, a heart disease survivor, discussed his personal encounter with the disease. This year's walk is in memory of his wife, Mary Knox McNeill, who for years staunchly supported the annual walk and who passed away last February. Mr. McNeill gave a first hand account of challenges he faced when he began having symptoms of heart disease at age 46. Over a period of years, he underwent six angioplasty procedures, then had open heart surgery.
He recounted one memorable day when he was riding horses with the Belle Meade Hunt, and suffered cardiac arrest. Members from the riding group rallied to help him, performing CPR for 20 minutes while waiting for EMTs to arrive.
He attributes his survival to the vigilance of the other riders, and diligently maintains a healthy lifestyle of regular exercise and a healthy, low fat diet.
"Since that time, by the grace of God, I've not had one minute's trouble.
"I tip my hat to the American Heart Association. Without them I wouldn't be here," he said.
Honorary Chairman Welsh, who attended with members of the Thomson High Bulldogs football team, reminded the audience "Every day is precious."
Nutrition expert Dr. Karp gave information on how to live a longer life by maintaining heart health.
Warren Karp talks to a Heart Walk supporter Virginia Bradshaw during the kick-off.
Photo by Jerrie MacIntire
Dr. Karp, professor emeritus at MCG, discussed the role of diet, exercise, and cholesterol in heart health.
"You can choose to be healthy or not," he told the crowd.
Living a healthier lifestyle not only extends life but can reduce health care costs, he said.
Dr. Karp gave some tips especially relevant to the Christmas season:
People should keep their regular exercise program during the holidays. They should maintain their weight, stepping on the scales once a week at a regularly scheduled time to monitor it.
He recommended avoiding "pigging out" during the holidays. Heart attacks at family gatherings can put a damper on the festive spirit, he said.
Dr. Karp said to drink in moderation and avoid consuming too much alcohol.
There are several food substitutions that can lead to healthier dishes without giving up taste. He recommended using skim milk and low fat sour cream in recipes.
Don't give a food gift to a friend struggling with weight, he said.
Dr. Karp also recommended freezing leftovers immediately to avoid the temptation of over eating.
This year's annual Heart Walk will begin at 9:15 a.m. at Thomson Middle School and has a goal of $40,000.
For the fifth year, Kathy Linebarger will be among the walkers trying to raise money for research and education on heart disease.
"It's a worthy cause. And it's fun," said Ms. Linebarger, a nurse who will serve as a team leader.