The 2022 Greater Maryland Heart Walk drew nearly 4,800 registered walkers, including over 135 Top Walkers, raising more than $1.53 million for the American Heart Association, which funds life-saving research and advocacy.
For the first time, the Greater Maryland Heart Walk emanated from the Maryland State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 8. More than 250 heart and stroke survivors were celebrated, including John Holschuh, who shared his story with the crowd prior to the start of the walk.
Holschuh was saved by a friend who administered CPR after Holschuh had a sudden cardiac event and collapsed in the driveway following a pickup basketball game between the two fathers and their teenage sons last November.
One of the boys called 9-1-1 while the other waited at the end of the long driveway to flag down emergency medical personnel as Holschuh’s friend administered life-saving CPR for about 15 minutes until EMTs arrived.
“Thanks to their actions, I’m a survivor. I’m still here today,” Holschuh said at Saturday’s Heart Walk. “From the bottom of my family’s hearts — to the walkers, the sponsors, the volunteers and the workers at the American Heart Association — keep doing what you’re doing so more families like ours can have the gift of time, the gift of life.”
In addition to the 1-mile walk on the racetrack at the Fairgrounds, the Greater Maryland Heart Walk also encouraged attendees to Move More with pre- and post-walk Zumba parties, and to learn to be Healthy For Good with a cooking demonstration by Chef Stephanie Rose of the Baltimore Simple Cooking with Heart Kitchen.
Sponsors and volunteers at the event also helped attendees relax with yoga and meditation sessions, conducted blood pressure checks to help them know their numbers, and demonstrated life-saving, Hands-Only CPR. The popular Kids Zone encouraged parents and youth to learn more about Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge, and the Dog Jog got our furry friends’ hearts pumping too.
Tom Rodgers from WBFF Fox 45 News served as the emcee for the event.
Angela Celestin, a representative from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the signature sponsor of the 2022 Greater Maryland Heart Walk, said the event aligned with the company’s goals of motivating its own employees to be healthier.
“When the opportunity arose to support this year’s Heart Walk, CareFirst jumped at the chance to contribute to the effort and to get our company and community more involved,” said Celestin, the Chief Human Resources Officer for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.
“The Walk was an amazing success, and we hope that everyone who participated in the Heart Walk recognizes they have helped themselves and others live longer, healthier lives,” she added.
Led by 2022 Greater Maryland Heart Walk Chair Stacia Cohen, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield was the top company fundraiser for this year’s walk with more than $175,629 raised. CareFirst was followed by Johns Hopkins Medicine ($134,061), MedStar Health ($87,693) and University of Maryland Medical System ($83,854) as the top corporate fundraisers.
Community teams participating in the walk collectively raised more than $52,600, including this year’s top team La Plata 5K, led by survivor Damon Gray, with over $15,000 raised. Gray, who successfully underwent a heart transplant last year, held several 5K events in Southern Maryland prior to the walk to raise money for the American Heart Association.
Donations can continue to be made online through Dec. 31, 2022, at greatermarylandheartwalk.org.
The Heart Walk is the signature event of the American Heart Association’s Heart Challenge program which is designed to help companies positively impact employee overall health and wellbeing.
The funds raised from the Greater Maryland Heart Walk go towards research, advocacy, CPR training and to promote better health in support of the Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
Wayne, a lifelong Marylander, is the communications director for the American Heart Association serving Baltimore and Greater Maryland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.