Cover Stories

Walk with Heart: American Heart Association

Each year at the American Heart Association’s Metro St. Louis Heart Walk, participants show love for patients, families and themselves by raising money and promoting a healthy lifestyle. It’s an opportunity to make positive choices for yourself while doing good for others, says event chair Ken Cella of Edward Jones.

This year’s walk will look a bit different because of social distancing, but its purpose and meaning remain the same, according to Cella. Instead of gathering as a group, participants will walk in their own neighborhoods on May 16 and share their experiences online to inspire others. The goal is to raise $1.47 million for the local AHA chapter’s fight against heart disease and stroke.

“It definitely has been a learning process taking this event from in-person to virtual, but it’s been fun to improvise as a team,” says Megan Hoffman, vice president of development for the chapter. “We’ve learned a lot about our community and our volunteers. St. Louis is resilient, and we are excited to come together across the metro to walk, even if ‘together’ doesn’t mean side by side. Anyone can take part by lacing up their shoes, getting outdoors and walking with heart.”

Hoffman says participants can register for the event at metrostlouisheartwalk.org and download the Heart Walk smartphone app from any app store. “After that, you can send messages to friends and family, asking them to donate and join you virtually on the walk,” she says. “You also can share your photos, videos and fundraising efforts via social media. Walkers even can deposit donation checks through the app, just like mobile banking.”

On the day of the event, the association will offer special activities through its social media channels. “We have a few surprises up our sleeves that will be fun for the whole family,” Hoffman says. “People can follow along @AHASTL on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and post photos using #HeartWalkSTL. We will share stories of why participants are walking and highlight how our partner companies are coming together to celebrate the community’s health.”

Cella says he is proud to be part of the effort because heart disease deeply impacted his own family, and he wants to encourage others to practice healthy habits. “This is the 13th year Edward Jones has supported the event,” he notes. “There will be hundreds of walkers from our company, which has raised more than $500,000 since 2007. I feel tremendous gratitude for the association’s work, and I know our community will continue to make a difference, even in trying times. Heart disease is preventable, and everybody knows someone affected by it.”

He adds that although the fundraiser is virtual this year, it’s expected to unite the community more than ever. “My family and I plan to take our dogs around the loop in our neighborhood and share pictures,” he says. “The Heart Walk is a perfect way to encourage well-being by creating healthier families and stronger communities. It really does the heart good, in more than one way.” 

The American Heart Association’s Metro St. Louis Heart Walk will be held virtually May 16. Participants will walk on their own where they choose and will raise money using the Heart Walk smartphone app. Pictured on the cover: Former St. Louis Blues defenseman and honorary Heart Walk co-chair Chris Pronger with event chair Ken Cella of Edward Jones. For more information, visit metrostlouisheartwalk.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Bill Barrett

Pictured at top: Event chair Ken Cella
Photo: Bill Barrett

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