October 7, 2010

Thousands turn out for biggest Heart Walk ever

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Thousands of participants in the 2010 Nashville Start! Heart Walk begin their trek. (Photo by Anne Rayner)

Thousands turn out for biggest Heart Walk ever

Organizers for the 2010 Nashville Start! Heart Walk couldn't have asked for better weather for the event that took place last Saturday.

Clear skies and cool temperatures prevailed as thousands of walkers took to the streets of the Vanderbilt campus to raise funds for the American Heart Association (AHA).

Although money continues to trickle in to the local AHA offices, administrators said that the Heart Walk drew nearly 10,000 people and raised more than $1.1 million, representing more than a $100,000 increase from last year.

Last year, Vanderbilt was the fourth largest organization in the country and the top hospital in the country raising $287,000. This year, Vanderbilt totals are expected to exceed $300,000 and once again hold national benchmarks.

Vanderbilt was well represented with 200 team captains and more than 1,000 walkers leading the way.

“This was Nashville's largest Heart Walk in terms of the number of participants,” said Kelley Tune, Senior Heart Walk Director. “With our Start! movement, great weather and more people turning out the day of the event, this was the largest fundraising event we've had.”

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.

“Vanderbilt's role in helping us organize this event was great,” Tune said.

“Larry Goldberg, David Posch and Kevin Churchwell, M.D., were great leaders for the Vanderbilt team. Sandee Tishler and Ed Higgins (Vanderbilt organizers) and their attention to logistics made the event what it was.”

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 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.”