By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

0916-Feature-Heart walk_Blog

Visitors to TrustPoint Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, may have seen something odd recently: the hospital’s CEO duct-taped to a wall.

Hospital employees had donated money for strips of duct tape to stick Jeffrey Woods to the wall of a busy hallway. With Woods fully immobilized a foot off the ground, one employee paid $100 to smash a pie in his face.

But it was all for a good cause: the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

Woods had initially dismissed the idea proposed by his local AHA affiliate. Hospital employees wouldn’t go for it, he thought. “How terrific it is to be wrong,” Woods said in a statement.

Last year, TrustPoint’s efforts raised more than $3,500 for the Rutherford County Heart Walk. This year’s event takes place Saturday, with about 1,500 expected to participate to reach a fundraising goal of $130,000.

The Rutherford County event is one of 325 Heart Walks taking place across the country this fall and next spring. In addition to local team fundraisers, Heart Walk team members request online donations from friends and family. Top Heart Walk teams have raised half a million dollars or more.

The fundraising walks are designed to raise money to fight heart disease and stroke — the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death among Americans — while promoting physical activity and heart-healthy living.

Attended by 1 million people each year, the event honors heart disease survivors and rewards walkers for healthy lifestyle changes. Some Heart Walks offer Hands-Only CPR demonstrations and host kid-friendly obstacle courses.

“There’s nothing like the sight of thousands of people joining forces at Heart Walk to fight heart disease and stroke,” AHA CEO Nancy Brown said. “We can save and improve so many lives when communities come together to raise funds for lifesaving research. And, of course, everybody getting some good exercise is yet another benefit.”

Heart Walk began in 1994 and has since raised more than $1.4 billion. It is the organization’s largest fundraiser and the second-largest fundraiser of its kind in the U.S., according to the Peer to Peer Professional Forum, which tracks fundraising walks and races.

Charitable walks and races first became popular in the 1990s, said Michael Nilsen, vice president of public affairs for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “They tapped into a health trend that has continued to this day,” he said.

TrustPoint Hospital CEO Jeffrey Woods taped to wall

TrustPoint Hospital CEO Jeffrey Woods.

The events give people an outlet to express what they believe in and offer a way to support friends and family, Nilsen said.

He credits the success of Heart Walk to the AHA’s size and the public’s awareness of the nonprofit. “Once you’ve got it, it’s a huge thing,” said Nilsen.

For the TrustPoint staff in Tennessee, getting to tape the boss to a wall was just a bonus to supporting the cause, Woods said.

“Each of us has been touched in our lives by a friend or loved one who has suffered or lost their life to coronary disease, heart attack or stroke,” he said. “In a small but important way, we join the American Heart and American Stroke Association in its mission.”

Photo courtesy of TrustPoint Hospital