MISSOULA – The annual Heart Walk and 5K Heart Run, a fundraiser for the American Heart and Stroke Association, will take place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at the University of Montana.
More than 600 people are expected to get moving and raise funds to support the education and research efforts of the American Heart Association, a nonprofit that raises awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke and promotes heart-healthy lifestyles. This year’s event is expected to raise more than $115,000.
“We know that while cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans and stroke is No. 4, they also are largely preventable,” said Valerie Topacio, operations manager for the AHA. “Engaging in regular physical activity – including brisk walking or running – has proven health benefits such as providing increased energy and circulation, as well as reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.”
No fundraising minimum is required to take part in the Heart Walk, and registration is open until the day of the event. The Heart Run 5K registration is $20 until Sept. 20 and $25 thereafter. Athletes can register starting at 8 a.m. the morning of the run or in advance online at http://www.missoulaheartwalk.org.
At 9:15 a.m., Heart Run participants will race their way through a 3.1-mile timed course that winds through campus, travels the Kim Williams Trail and finishes on the Oval. Walkers will stride out at 11 a.m., covering a nearly three-mile, noncompetitive course around the UM campus. The event also will feature a senior route around the Oval, and Missoula-area mascots will lead kids in an out-and-back dash from the center of the Oval to the Grizzly Bear Statue.
Guest speakers will kick off a ceremony at 10:15 a.m. to introduce heart disease survivors and remember those who have passed away because of heart disease. Speakers will include Missoula Mayor John Engen, UM President Royce Engstrom, Heart Walk and 5K Run Chair Lindsay Fisher and Mountain Broadcasting President Sheila Callahan.
Winners of the 5K Heart Run will be recognized for first-, second- and third-place finishes, and top walkers will be honored for their fundraising efforts. The kids’ zone at the Heart Walk will feature spectrUM Discovery Area’s popular hands-on learning exhibits and Monte will be on hand for the fun.
Refreshments and information on healthy lifestyles also will be available at the event. Grizzly athletes will volunteer and will take part in the festivities, and the UM Spirit Squad will provide enthusiasm as they warm up walkers and cheer on runners.
Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers – the organization funds cutting-edge research, conducts lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocates to protect public health.
Photo cutline: 2012 Heart Walk participants, photo credit: Todd Goodrich.