It's common to find someone involved with the Heart Walk because the disease personally affected them.
"As with many people, my participation came about as a result of a personal challenge. My very good friend, John Rebhan (owner of Warren Fabrication and Ohio Sheet Steel and Plate) passed away in conjunction with a heart condition," said Mike Link, vice president of Ohio Steel Sheet and Plate. "I knew then I had to find a way to contribute in an effort to help in this critical cause. The Heart Walk was exactly the venue for me to do so."
Rebhan's daughter, Regina Mitchell, is now co-owner of the businesses with her brother, Eric. She began organizing company Heart Walk teams honoring her father, who passed away in 2008.
"Warren Fabricating / OSSP became involved with the Heart Walk in 2011,"?Mitchell said. "Our companies have (raised) over $50,000 in the last three years."
After a heart episode 18 years ago that resulted in frequent visits to a cardiologist, Carren Chamberlin of New Waterford felt encouraged to become involved with the Heart Walk.
"I have been a top walker for 17 years,"?Chamberlin said. "As soon as I was able to go out and go, I went out and raised money."
You can help
The Heart Walk is the main fundraiser for the American Heart Association to save lives from heart disease and stroke. They are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of adults in this country.
The Heart Walk will take place on Sept. 20 at the WATTS (Watson and Tressel Training Site), 651 Elm St. at Youngstown State University.
Doors open at 9 a.m. which allows walkers to visit information booths.
A short program begins at 10 a.m.
The walking route is 1.25 miles through the Youngstown State University campus or walkers can use the WATTS track.
Participants can walk as an individual, as a small team or join an existing team. Walkers are encouraged to embrace physical activity more than a determinant amount of miles.
During pre-walk activities, participants can purchase a white torch for stroke survivors or red torch for heart disease. The torches will then be used in a pre-event ceremony.
Walkers are encouraged to pre-register, but may join the day of the event.
For more information about the Heart Walk or to register to walk, call the American Heart Association at 330-318-1003 or go online at www.heart.org/youngstownwalk.
- Nancilynn Gatta
Companies encourage their employees to become involved with the Heart Walk because it raises money for the American Heart Association and encourages the employees to strive for a healthier heart and body.
According to Liz Roberts, administrative assistant to the vice president of human resources at AVI Food Systems, the company has 13 teams participating in this year's walk for a total of 91 walkers.
The American Heart Walk has been a fundraiser in the Valley for more than 25 years.
"The American Heart Walk is one of the largest fundraisers to support research and education and to build awareness in the community about cardiovascular disease and stroke,"?said Charlotte Diss, American Heart Association's metro executive director. "We balance fundraising with education and efforts to promote health and wellness in the community."
In order to meet fundraising targets, Diss works with walk teams, groups, companies and individuals and helps raise awareness of the importance of the event's fundraising.
"Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 4 causes of death in our region and in the country,"?Diss said. "The American Heart Association believes the best way to improve the statistics is to do all they can to fund heart and stroke research and education."
Chamberlin understands firsthand how her efforts for the Heart Walk work because she can point out specific cases where people have been helped.
"It's easy for me to raise money because I can tell them where that money's going, that money is going to make a difference,"?Chamberlin said. "When I worked with Mended Hearts at St. E's - it's now closed in this area - I would go in and visit with an open heart patient that only had surgery maybe a day and a half out of surgery. I would convince them that there is more to life. When somebody has anything connected with heart disease, the first thing they're going to say is, 'My life's over. I have nothing to live for.' And it was my job to go in there and convince them that there's a whole new life out there for you. That's where I saw where the heart money was going. I was seeing patients that would not have lived had it not been for the research going on with the Heart Association."
According to Diss, with awareness the American Heart Association hopes to encourage the community to make the necessary life adjustments for better health.
Link has seen positive changes because of the Heart Walk.
"After my first year of participating, I found myself walking more at work,"?he said. "My job requires me to provide oversight in a large plant complex, and I started walking more to get to where I was needed. This only increased over the years and now I find myself walking nearly every time I need to go out of the office."
The Heart Walk was designed by The American Heart Association, not only as a fundraiser, but as a means to promote heart healthy living for its participants and everyone living in the Mahoning Valley.