Friday, September 18, 2009

Start! San Francisco Heart Walk Hopes to Raise $1.4 Million

Between 4,000 and 5,000 people participated in Start! San Francisco Heart Walk this morning.

With temperatures soaring, they walked from the Justin Herman Plaza, opposite the Ferry Builiding, at 11.30 am, down the Embarcadero and around the Giants' ballpark and back, to hopefully raise about $1.4 million dollars for the American Heart Association.

The sidewalk was a mass of colour as teams representing over 80 companies and charitable groups from the city sported logo-ed tee shirts. Near the ballpark, the Giants' mascot, Lou Seal, perched on his red cart and encouraged them, and volunteers handed out chilled bottles of water.

One very thankful walker was transplant patient, MaryAnne McDonough, who received a new heart in February of this year and was walking under the team name '2 Months Til Dawn.'

An attractive, vivacious blonde-haired young woman smiled out from the posters MaryAnne and sister, Nellie Sharp, held up as they walked. The photos were of San Diego softball athlete, Dawn Brejcha, the woman MaryAnne owes her life to. Tragically, Dawn died in February from a brain aneurysm at the age of 41 years.

MaryAnne was at death's door when the gift of Dawn's young and healthy heart arrived at Stanford Hospital.

How does she feel today on the walk?

'Great! I'm alive and here to spend great times with the children and grandson and family. I hope to be here a long time,' she said, with daughters Jennifer and Ashley alongside.

'I'm forever thankful to Dawn to give me life, and to her family, especially Lucille and Al - her parents - because if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here today.'

pic shows MaryAnne, Nellie, Jennifer and Ashley

Most of the walkers finished the 3-mile walk in about an hour, and lolled around in the plaza after to eat lunch, browse the stalls giving out information on healthy lifestyles and to watch some entertainment.

Volunteer Board member, Mr Keith Donnermeyer, was very pleased with the way the event had gone.

'It just gets better every year with more and more teams coming out. We've had the usual participants and a whole load of new people, which was really the goal,' he said, 'to get new people.'

Because the aim is not just money but to raise awareness to eat well and be healthy. Particularly by walking.

Research shows that walking for as little as 30 mins per day reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, lowers blood pressure, helps to prevent osteoporosis, reduces the risk of cancer and improves mental well being, as well as other health benefits.

Keith was standing back in the Justin Herman Plaza at 1.15 pm, as many of the walkers were finishing. Official temperatures for San Francisco were at 75 degrees, but in the plaza sheltered from sea breezes and in the direct rays of the sun it felt much hotter.

The San Francisco walk is thought to be one of the three largest heart walks in America, and possibly today, one of the hottest for the city.

'This is the hottest one I can remember,' said Keith, 'and I've done them in Sacramento, so this is nice!'

A second Start! San Francisco Heart Walk for heart and stroke victims will be held next Saturday, Sept 26, in the Golden Gate Park across from the Conservatory of Flowers. Time: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm, it is a 3 mile Heart Walk and Stroke Miracle Mile.

More info:

No comments: