September 8, 2006

Heart Walk organizers set ambitious ’06 goals

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Fred DeWeese was among the speakers at the recent American Heart Walk kickoff meeting for team captains, held at the Children’s Hospital theater.
Photo by Susan Urmy

Heart Walk organizers set ambitious ’06 goals

Organizers of the 8th annual American Heart Association's Heart Walk at Vanderbilt are hoping Nashville is ready to step up to the challenge of becoming the top fund-raising team in the country.

The Medical Center already lays claim to the top walker in the nation — Fred DeWeese — who brought in $170,000 of the more than $305,000 Vanderbilt raised during last year's walk, which brought in a record $1.3 million, making Vanderbilt the No. 3 fund-raiser in the nation.

This year's walk will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 10 a.m.

The three-mile trek will wind through the Vanderbilt campus, with festivities prior to the event.

Vanderbilt's 2006 Heart Walk goal is $500,000.

“We can be the national leader in our efforts to fight heart disease,” said David Posch, Vanderbilt's Heart Walk leader. “This will take a concerted effort and a multi-pronged approach.

“The important thing about the walk is the spirit of the event. We are all coming together for heart disease, which affects all of us in some aspect or another. Heart disease is something we can defeat in our lifetime.”

Posch, a two-time company leader as well as chief operating officer of Vanderbilt Medical Group, applauded the continued interest of many at Vanderbilt for participating in the walk and fund-raising efforts.

This year Posch challenged the more than 100 attendees of the walk's kickoff to go the distance, raise $1,000 themselves and find at least one other team member to do the same.

“We are really going to need to push ourselves,” Posch said. “But the return is Vanderbilt receives tenfold what it raises and it gives us the chance to create a tremendous research capability as we continue to expand our clinical enterprise.”

More than $4 million in grants from the American Heart Association come back to Vanderbilt. It's money Chris Brown, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, said makes the difference in life and death for many suffering from heart disease.

“We have come so far in 20 years,” Brown said. “In 1975 my father had his first heart attack. I was 7 years old. There was very little the doctors could do. He had a one in four chance of dying, even though he was under treatment in a hospital.

“In the early 80s he suffered his second attack and received TPA to dissolve the clot causing the blockage that led to the heart attack. There have been advances upon advances, upon advances. Treatments have a much higher rate of success.

“The AHA was responsible for these differences because it provided the funds for training physicians and researchers. It makes a huge difference in how cardiovascular diseases will be treated. We are a part of that piece.”

More than 500 U.S. cities hold walks to raise money to help fund heart disease and stroke research and education.

The fund-raiser is the third such largest in the nation and helps with education, awareness programs and research in the fight against heart disease and stroke, including supporting work being done by VUMC investigators. Vanderbilt is the second-largest recipient of AHA research funds in the country, with 29 awards.