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American Heart Association, Pioneer Valley to start walking for heart health

SPRINGFIELD The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease and stroke will hold the 2010 Pioneer Valley Start! Heart Walk on May 16 at Forest Park. More than 700 supporters and survivors are expected to attend. Those looking to start a walk team still have time to register to support the fund raiser to fight heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association is looking to raise over $200,000 to fund the research and education of heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in the United States. Walkers who raise a minimum of $100 will receive a free commemorative Heart Walk T-shirt. There are also incentive prizes available for all levels of fundraising efforts with everything from beach totes and designer handbags to satellite radios and home theater systems. Walkers are also encouraged to check with their employers about a matching program. "Working in the healthcare industry, I understand the need for continual support in the fight against heart disease through funding and awareness," Carlos Martins, 2010 Pioneer Valley Heart Walk chair, said. "By supporting the American Heart Association's Start! Heart Walk, we are building a culture of physical activity while reducing the risk of heart disease. Many risks for heart disease are preventable and together we can begin to make a difference in the lives of patients before they need any medical assistance." Other local organizations that have joined Riverbend Medical Group in the fight against cardiovascular disease and stroke include Kindred Healthcare, OMG and Presenting Sponsor, Lenox-American Saw. The national sponsor for the 2010 Start! Heart Walk is Subway. Walk registration will begin at 9 a.m. at the baseball field which is located just inside the Sumner Avenue entrance to the Park. Walkers can enjoy a light breakfast, music compliments of Mix 93.1 and activities for children in the Kids Zone which includes a bounce house, clowns, face painting and more. The walk will kick off at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and walkers will have the choice of a one, two or five-mile stroll through the picturesque park. The Heart Walk is part of a larger corporate initiative called Start!, which is a corporate wellness and walking program. According to a Harvard study, adults gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular exercise. Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. Physically active people save $500 a year on healthcare costs. Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day provides heart health benefits. To learn more about the Start! campaign, the Pioneer Valley Heart Walk, or to find out more about sponsorship opportunities please call the American Heart Association at 827-0400 or go to www.pioneervalleyheartwalk.org.

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