Loch Haven park, in Orlando, saw one of the largest turn outs for a charitable event in years, Saturday. The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk had participation of over 11,000 walkers, runners, dogs, and strollers.
“It’s a good cause, the support was amazing to see. I wish it wasn’t so early or end so quickly, but overall, it was great,” said Chloe Fleece. She's a current student at the University of Central Florida student.
The American Heart Association's goal is to improve the cardiovascular health, of all Americans by 20 percent, by the year 2020. The weekend event has been inspiring people from across the nation to wake up early, in support of the cause.
“What inspired me was the fact that I am living with a heart disease,” Fleece said. “I wish I would have done this a long time ago, but recently been trying to lose weight and work on my cardio, get my heart strong.”
Different teams, such as the Team Colling: Stewart’s Army and those from Lockheed and Martin gathered donations for the day. The Florida Hospital’s Heart Walk team raised the most, out of any other corporate team, with a total of $172,000.
The donations for entire the event exceeded $1 million.
Volunteers performed life expectancy tests and measured the antioxidant levels of participants and while the vendors hung around the stage area, keeping order and collecting donations, the runners were hitting the streets of Princeton and Alden for the beginning of the race.
According to the American Heart Association website, heart diseases are the nation’s number one and number three killers, which claim more than 865,000 lives each year.
Just in case something were to happen to any one of them, there were paramedics on the scene. They were clothed in red and equipped with first aid supplies, strolling through the crowd, on bike.
The standard route was 3.1 miles, with an alternative 1 mile route, for beginners.
“The heart walk was a step in the right direction,” walker Dylan Anderson, said.
A truck with a bed full of ice and water bottles, sat parked in one of the driveways of the tree lined residential street, for walkers to grab as they passed by.
There was an accordion player on every corner, it seemed, an unexpected contribution to the background chatter of the walkers and runners.
“It’s a great way to start a Saturday morning,” Valencia student, Chris Scheidell said. “Seeing so many people doing such a great thing, it’s really motivating. It’s really inspiring.”
Student, Dylan Morley said, “Yeah, we all came out for a great cause and to get some early morning exercise. There was a lot of great energy and it was the most fun you could ever have, walking in a circle.”