The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart
and brain health for all, embraced the new normal, taking its iconic Greater Washington Region Heart Walk, traditionally held on the National Mall, online for a digital experience. Held over the weekend of November 6-8 participants were able to complete all activities from anywhere – their homes and neighborhoods – and many shared their experience on the Heart Walk Facebook event page.
This year, the campaign saw higher participation than 2019 in spite of the challenges brought on by the pandemic. A total of 470 teams & 3,149 walkers registered from 90 contributing organizations, with a record percentage of participants raising funds. Registrants were also actively engaged in the 30-Day Step Challenge presented by Sheehy Auto Stores. Nearly one third of participants downloaded the Heart Walk app and logged 88,847,052 steps which is the equivalent of over 42,000 miles. That’s nearly two laps around the equator! The Heart Walk’s Executives with Heart campaign, comprised of local leaders who pledge to donate or raise $5,000, also broke Greater Washington region records. Over 100 people took part in the challenge, raising over $500,000. To date, the Greater Washington Heart Walk has raised $1.6 million in support of the American Heart Association.
The Walk broke yet another local record this year, with the Greater Washington Region’s first
ever $100,000 individual fundraiser, Heart Challenge Chair Tim Gillis, Managing Partner at KPMG. “I am so proud that people truly came together from all over the world to walk, give and celebrate life,” said Gillis. “The overall campaign’s success is attributed to our participants, donors and sponsors who continue to carry the torch and show up. The American Heart Association needs us more than ever and I am heartened by the dedication and generosity of so many.” Gillis shattered local records, raising over $137K himself and his company, KPMG, was the #1 fundraising organization.
Throughout the month familiar elements of the Walk were shared through social including step challenges, youth-focused activities, and the Zumba warm-up. The Opening Ceremonies was posted on Facebook to kick off the weekend and featured long-time host WUSA9’s Howard Bernstein, 2020 Heart Challenge Chair Gillis, incoming 2021 Heart Challenge Chair Jill Feldon of Kaiser Permanente, Cedric Sims of Booz Allen Hamilton, Mac Curtis of Perspecta and recording artist Tulani who performed the National Anthem. Seven people were awarded Lifestyle Change Awards presented by Kaiser Permanente for the modifications they have made to live longer, healthier lives. One honoree was host Bernstein, who has taken up bike riding and changed his eating habits.
“We are thrilled with the level of engagement and enthusiasm from our walkers, sponsors and Executive Leadership Team,” said Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the American Heart Association. “It is truly a testament to our incredible volunteers, like Tim [Gillis], who worked tirelessly to champion our cause. I want to say thank you to everyone who took the steps in making this year’s Walk a huge success.”
Funds raised by the annual campaign lead to medical breakthroughs, transform healthcare systems, support stronger public health policy, and much more. The campaign is only possible with support of our local Greater Washington Heart Walk sponsors, including KPMG, Sheehy Auto Stores, Blake Real Estate, Kaiser Permanente, Leidos, Pernix Consulting, Perspecta, Digital Realty, GEICO, Phone2Action, Booz Allen Hamilton, Korn Ferry, Novant Health and Executive Mosaic.
Donations can still be made in support of the event at www.GreaterWashingtonHeartWalk.org or text GWDCHW to 71777.
Sharing the stories of the work of the American Heart Association to remove the barriers of health in all communities is my passion.