By AMANDA LOVIZA
Glasgow Daily Times
As Barren County gears up for its annual Heart Walk on Saturday, organizers and participants in the event take a step back to think about why they have become involved in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk over the years. For many, involvement in the Heart Walk stems from a personal or family history of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Candy Wethington, chairman of the Barren County Heart walk this year, got involved with the organization because of her family’s extensive history of heart problems.
“It is a cause that is very near and dear to me,” Wethington said.
The Barren County Heart Walk will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Beaver Creek Trail in Glasgow. Teams have been raising funds for several months, but community members are encouraged to continue forming teams up until the beginning of the walk, or walk without a team. The walk will be one to three miles, and all money collected will be donated to the American Heart Association.
Committee members have been trying hard to make the Heart Walk an even bigger event this year, Wethington said. The weeks leading up to the Heart Walk have been highlighted by a bottle cap and can tab collection competition at local elementary schools, proceeds nights at restaurants and a proclamation of a heart health awareness week by Mayor Rhonda Trautman.
For Trautman, being involved in the Heart Walk is especially personal.
“I’ve actually been a heart patient all my life,” Trautman said. “I was born with a congenital heart defect. So this has been something that’s been very important to me.”
Trautman had her first open heart surgery at age two, followed by a second open heart surgery with a valve replacement in 2000. Because of her own heart condition, Trautman said she is “very appreciative” of everything the American Heart Association does, in particular the research that is funded partially by fundraisers such as local heart walks.
Trautman said she was pleased to help with the elementary students’ bottle cap drive competition by offering a mayor’s cup to the winner, because if children hear about issues such as heart health early, they can become involved in helping raise awareness throughout their lives.
Wethington’s goal with Heart Walk activities this year has been as much about raising awareness as raising funds, she said, which was why the committee focused on creating activities to lead up to the Heart Walk, instead of just having a one-day event.
“We’re really trying to revamp (the Heart Walk) and raise awareness,” Wethington said.
Sarah Hampton, another member of the Heart Walk committee, said she has been involved with the Heart Walk in Barren and Marion counties since 1990. Both her parents died of massive heart attacks, and she said she hopes that her involvement in the Heart Walk will help raise awareness so others will see the warning signs of heart disease before it’s too late.
“It’s a great experience to help others and do what you can for those who are still fighting,” Hampton said.
The Heart Walk is a good way to get outside and get some exercise, raise money for a good cause and learn more about heart issues,” Trautman said.
Heart disease affects so many people, Wethington said, and heart problems are the number one form of birth defects. The Heart Walk will help community members learn about heart disease, sleep apnea and how to live healthy, with a panel of doctors available for discussions as well as a sleep apnea expert and dietician. Activities will include music, a kids’ zone, heart-healthy snacks and a survivors’ memorial. Whether a person is involved in a team or not, Wethington said she wants everyone in the community to check out the Heart Walk.
“We want people to come out and participate regardless if they have a team or not,” Wethington said.