Valdosta Daily Times

November 4, 2012

Heart Walk draws crowd to McKey Park

More than 100 participate, raise $70,000 for heart disease

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The 2012 Lowndes Heart Walk drew a crowd of more than 100 from seven different fundraising teams Saturday morning, walking the 3.1-mile track in spite of cool, foggy weather.

About 15 booths circled McKey Park, where guests had already begun to gather in numbers by 8 a.m., but the event wasn’t without its hiccups.

American Heart Association event organizer Chris Atib was hoping for music, but the DJ on the schedule failed to appear. To remedy the situation, State Representative, District 177 candidate Dexter Sharper managed to track down a PA system for Atib to make announcements and hold opening ceremonies.

Heart Walk Chairman Tim Jones announced sponsorship awards to 17 Valdosta area sponsors and shared that the event had exceeded its goal of raising $70,000. “We want to change the way Americans think about food and exercise,” Jones said to the crowd, which applauded their support.

The Valdosta High School Wildcats cheerleaders made a showing, and kids were invited to burn some calories on the jungle gym and bouncy house. To the left of the stage, a

Tribute Wall stood available for guests to sign to show their support of whomever they were walking for.

One walker, Laura Gallegos, signed for Mercedes Hernandez, also known as “Sadie Bug,” a 7-year-old with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.

Before the walk began, teams had the opportunity to take the stage to sport their T-shirts endorsing the values of each team. Top fundraisers were also announced.

The top individual fundraiser title went to Freddie Bajalia, with a total of $2,600; top fundraising team went to Team South Georgia Medical Center, with a total of $5,720; and the top fundraising company went to Valdosta State University, which brought in a total of $8,648.

The crowd disbursed for the start line, marked off with an arch of colored balloons, to begin the walk.