October 9, 2009

Heart Walk funds pour in despite rainout

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Heart Walk funds pour in despite rainout

Mother Nature dealt a blow to the American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Walk, forcing organizers to cancel the event for the first time in the 10 years it's been held on Vanderbilt's campus.

Heavy rain and lightning prevailed in the early morning hours leading up to the 8 a.m. start.

AHA leadership made the decision to cancel the event at 6 a.m.

The Nashville Heart Walk will not be rescheduled.

“While we are disappointed that we had to cancel, it doesn't negate all of the hard work our team captains did to raise an extraordinary amount of money for the American Heart Association,” said Heart Walk Vice President Kelley Tune.

“The money that was raised through the commitment of all participants will greatly benefit the efforts of the AHA.”

Although money continues to trickle in to the local AHA offices, administrators said that the Heart Walk raised about $915,000.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center had 202 teams in place and was the largest fundraising team in Middle Tennessee and probably among the top five in the nation, bringing in more than $260,000.

With several large walks pending elsewhere in the nation and continuing through November, it is uncertain which walk will bring in the most money.

Nashville's annual walk to help in the fight against heart disease and stroke has consistently ranked among the top 20 walks nationwide.

The AHA is encouraging Vanderbilt employees to commit to walking the three miles on their own or to join the Rutherford Co. Heart Walk, which is slated for Oct. 18.

“The Walk itself is a celebration of the work and commitment to raise money for the AHA. We'd like for everyone to still get out, get exercise and pat themselves on the back for a job well done,” Tune said.

The AHA funds $5.8 million in research projects at Vanderbilt.

“Vanderbilt can be proud of the role it played in ensuring that the Nashville Heart Walk fundraising effort was a big success,” said Doug Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

“The money raised at the Heart Walk will directly benefit our research efforts.”