More than 5,000 people participated in the Inland Empire Heart & Stroke Walk at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.
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October 09, 2013; 10:57 AM

A record 5,000 people turned out for the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Inland Empire Heart and Stroke Walk aimed at raising awareness and funds to fight the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers — heart disease and stroke. The event held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena on Sept. 21 exceeded its fundraising goal, bringing in more than $320,000, the most it has raised in several years.

“This has been a landmark year for the Inland Empire Heart and Stroke Walk,” said event chair Ted Stream, shareholder at Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden . “We doubled event participation and funds raised to support the American Heart Association’s research and education programs in our community. It has been inspiring to see our community leaders fully embrace the lifesaving mission of the AHA.”

He added, “Together, we have had an incredible impact on the health and wellness of the Inland Empire. If you think about it, in one day we were able to provide 5,000 people with free blood pressure screenings, echocardiograms, consultations with personal trainers, and so much more. When you go to the Heart and Stroke Walk, you walk away with the tools and resources that you need to live a long, heart-healthy life — and you have fun doing it. I am so proud to be part of this cause and looking forward to next year’s event.”

Many of the walkers represented families, individuals and teams formed by local companies who have spent the last few months raising money to support the AHA’s mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The County of Riverside was this year’s top team in both participation and funds raised.

“Riverside County and its employees were proud to support this year’s walk,” said Jay Orr, CEO of Riverside County. “Over 1,700 employees participated by walking and raising over $76,000. This is a loud statement that we are committed to becoming a healthy community. I am very proud of our employees. I am also looking forward to being the 2014 Community Chair so that we can make a sustained commitment to heart health and public health in this region. We hope to walk in Coachella Valley and the Temecula Valley to spread this message countywide. I hope to see participation by our cities as well in the coming walks.”

The Inland Empire Heart Walk is an annual event that brings the community together to help achieve the AHA’s 2020 impact goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

Participants included many heart disease and stroke survivors as well as families who lost loved ones to the nation’s leading causes of death.

Four-year-old Ian Atencio walked with more two dozen family members and friends. Ian was born with a rare heart defect and has undergone two open-heart surgeries in his young life. Addressing the crowd during the Heart & Stroke Walk opening ceremony, Ian’s mom Elizabeth Atencio shared, “My son’s battle is not over, like so many others that are still fighting, but with the help of the AHA and all of the amazing volunteers and supporters we can give families and individuals the strength that they need to fight instead of feel hopeless. With money comes technology, and with technology comes cures.”

Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 4 killers in America. The American Heart Association’s mission is to build healthier lives, free of these and other cardiovascular diseases. The AHA’s lifesaving activities include improving patient care, advocating for better health and educating the public, including populations at risk, through community education programs. The AHA also funds groundbreaking medical research to help better understand, treat and prevent heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Despite the AHA’s track record in funding research, each year hundreds of deserving projects go unfunded because there was not enough money to support them.

The Heart & Stroke Walk provides an opportunity for the community to help build awareness of heart disease and stroke and raise funds to support cardiovascular research.

The 2013 Inland Empire Heart and Stroke Walk was sponsored nationally by Subway and Jenny Craig and locally by San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and Stronghold Engineering. Additional supporters include Riverside Community Hospital, Gresham Savage, Mission Ambulance, Dignity Health — St. Bernardine Medical Center and Community Hospital of San Bernardino. The media sponsors were 100.3 The Sound, Ability Magazine, Inland Valley News, KSGN 89.7, KPRO 1570, KSPA 1510, KTLA 5, Lamar Advertising and The Press Enterprise.

The chair of the 2014 Inland Empire Heart & Stroke Walk is Stan Morrison, Senior Vice President, Security Bank of California and former head coach of the USC Trojans. For information about next year’s Heart & Stroke Walk, visit www.IEHeartWalk.org or call (310) 424-4174.

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