More than 150 participants gathered at John Rudy County Park in York on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 18 for the annual York Heart Walk. The event raised over $33,000 for the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health for all, while promoting physical and mental health through healthy habits.
The event saw fewer participants than in previous years, but those that did participate were excited to have the opportunity to gather in-person again after the Heart Walk was held virtually in 2020. The dedicated group of participants included heart disease survivors and their families, proudly wearing matching homemade t-shirts, commemorative Heart Walk baseball caps and Heart Hero capes.
Among them was Missy Mulcahy Fischer, who began participating in the York Heart Walk in 2014 after her husband, Mark Mulcahy, died suddenly of a heart attack. She began hosting her own Tie Die 5K race in his memory and using the money she raised toward her Heart Walk fundraising goal, consistently putting her among the event’s “top walkers” who individually raise the most money. Despite being unable to hold her 5K this year, she is currently in first place for the Top Walker prize with over $3,000 raised. She’s raised a total of $93,000 in the past eight years.
The funds raised at events like the Heart Walk support the American Heart Association’s mission, including advocating for public policy that improves community health, advancing the science of CPR, improving outcomes for heart and stroke patients, and investing in cardiovascular research that has led to life-saving advancements in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
The star of this year’s Heart Walk was 21-month-old heart hero Jace Taughinbaugh of Gettysburg, a congenital heart defect survivor. Jace was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, called double outlet of the right ventricle with a subaortic ventricular septal defect, before he was born in November 2019. At birth, he was found to have several other defects including fused ribs, abnormal shaped vertebra in the spine and a duplicated collecting system in his left kidney that resulted in a rare diagnoses of Goldenhar Syndrome. He underwent two open heart surgeries and received a permanent pacemaker in 2020.
“We now call Jace our ‘little iron man’ since he has a special device helping his heartbeat,” said his mother, Liz Taughinbaugh, as she addressed the walkers gathered to kick-off the event. “Jace is our heart warrior superhero and has shown us the biggest strength and perseverance in his short time on earth and reminds us every day how much of a gift life really is.”
With a little help from his mom, Jace cut the ribbon to officially kick-off the Heart Walk, which took walker on a 5K walk through John Rudy County Park.
Supporters who were unable to attend the Heart Walk in person were encouraged to walk on their own path. The American Heart Association encourages anyone who wishes to support the Heart Walk, but was unable to attend the event in person, to walk where they are and share their walk on social media using #YorkHeartWalk.
The York Heart Walk was sponsored by WellSpan Health, which earned the top fundraising company honors, UPMC, Encompass Health, Glatfelter Insurance and ManorCare. Joseph Iandolo, vice president of operations at UPMC Memorial, served as chair of the event.
Donations to help the American Heart Association reach its $63,000 goal for the York Heart Walk will be accepted through Oct. 18. Visit heart.org/yorkwalk to learn more and make a donation.
Communications Director for the American Heart Association in Central Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, State College, Altoona and Johnstown.