The American Heart Association (AHA) Greater Washington Region raised funds and raised heartbeats for the health and well-being of our community during its 2021 Heart Walk on Saturday, November 6. Friends, teams, coaches and sponsors walked on the National Mall or created their own pop-up start lines to support lifesaving cardiovascular research and advocate for a world with more birthdays celebrated, dreams fulfilled and hugs shared alongside loved ones.
This year 117 companies, 446 teams and thousands of walkers raised over $1.75 million. Leading up to the Walk, participants competed in a month-long Move More Challenge presented by Sheehy Auto Stores. In total, the challenge tracked more than 259,000 minutes of activity, which is almost the equivalent of moving nonstop for six months!
The Walk kicked off on a sun-filled morning with opening remarks from Heart Challenge Chair Cynthia Cifuentes, Vice President of Brand, Communications and Community Engagement at Kaiser Permanente and Dr. Ameya Kulkarni, an interventional cardiologist and the lead for cardiology and cardiovascular surgery at Kaiser Permanente. Participants got moving with fitness warm-ups followed by the National Anthem sang by 15-year-old singer, songwriter and Arlington, VA local Sarah Baumgarten.
Highlights from the day include a special check presentation in honor of DC resident Kurt Rieschick who passed away in January 2021 from a sudden cardiac arrest, a presentation of the Heart Hero Award from SAIC to George Banker in recognition of his commitment to heart health and a Hands-Only CPR demonstration and CPR save story from Greater Washington Region Board member Brian Buckley.
Throughout the day, walkers enjoyed musical performances, recognized loved ones with our tribute stickers and even participated in a dog parade!
“It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces, friends and community members come together to honor survivors, celebrate health and wellness in the Greater Washington Region and live our mission,” Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the American Heart Association said. “Thank you to our walkers, sponsors, Executives with Heart and incredible volunteers who took steps to make this year’s Walk so successful and thank you to Kaiser Permanente and Cynthia Cifuentes for leading and chairing this tremendous event.”
Funds raised by the Heart Walk ensure that more cardiovascular research is funded, more hospitals administer the highest standards of care and that fewer people suffer and die from heart disease and stroke. The event is possible with the support of our local Greater Washington Region Heart Walk sponsors including Kaiser Permanente, Sheehy Auto Stores, Blake Real Estate, Leidos, KPMG, Peraton, Pernix Consulting, SAIC, Digital Realty, Geico, Millennium Corporation, Phone2Action, Booz Allen Hamilton, CareFirst, RSI, Suburban Hospital, Van Metre, Colonial Parking, Executive Mosaic, Sightline Media Group and WASH-FM.
Donations in support of the event can be made through the end of 2021 at www.GreaterWashingtonHeartWalk.org.