Thousands in Tallahassee walk for heart health

More than 4,000 people laced up their walking shoes to participate in the Big Bend Heart Walk on Saturday at Tom Brown Park.

The American Heart Association‘s annual Big Bend Heart Walk attracted thousands of community members. Whether walking on behalf of an organization or as individuals, participants embarked on a 3-mile trek to help raise funds for heart disease and stroke research.

Alexis Huss, a Tallahassee Community College sophomore English education student from Chicago, said educating others about heart disease is a group effort.

“We’re here on behalf of the TCC softball team to support research,” Huss said. “I have a family member who is a survivor as well.”

Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States, according to The American Heart Association.

Tallahassee Democrat Executive Editor and Chairman of the Big Bend Heart Walk Bob Gabordi, whose father suffered from heart disease, is committed to raising community awareness.

“This community cares a lot about health issues and we’re working real hard as a community to get healthier together,” Gabordi said.

Gabordi and the American Heart Association set a fundraiser goal of nearly $300,000 to fund research and education in the Big Bend area.

“Our goal is $265,000 which is a record if we get there and we’re pretty close,” Gabordi said. “We brought in $30,000 today and more is coming in.”

Heart disease and strokes claim more than 813,804 American lives a year.

Staying active helps reduce risk of these conditions.

Chris Atib, regional director with the American Heart Association, encourages healthy eating and regular exercise.

“Heart disease is 80 percent preventable and 20 percent hereditary,” Atib said. “Walking, drinking water and staying away from salty foods can reduce risk.”

Some local sponsors for the Big Bend Heart Walk are Tallahassee Memorial Heart and Vascular center, Leon County Commissions and the Florida Association of Insurance Agents.

Visit the official Heart Walk site for more information.