HEART WALK: Pike County celebrates heart health

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, February 28, 2019

As Jim O’Neal turned the corner on another lap at the Pike County Heart Walk Thursday, emcee Ralph Black called out a happy birthday over the loudspeaker to a long-time veteran of the walk.

It wasn’t actually O’Neal’s birthday – it’s today – but he said he enjoyed the surprise on the day before he turned 94 years old.

“I had heart surgery and I just come out here every to celebrate another year,” O’Neal said.

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David Douglas, O’Neal’s grandson, said his grandfather has been doing this heart walk every year since the 1960s.

O’Neal was just one of the many people that came out to the Troy Parks and Recreation indoor track Thursday night to participate I the celebration of life and victory over heart disease.

Some people came to walk in memory of loved ones lost to heart disease, some came to walk for those still fighting. Some walked as survivors and some walked just to stay heart healthy.

Whatever the reason for walking, the Heart Walk celebrates the people who have helped during the year to raise funds for the American Heart Association and to raise even more money for the charity.

Things were a bit different this year; there was no keeping up with how many laps people walked and there were no prizes given away for walking extra laps. Everyone was simply invited to walk as many laps as they could or wanted to during the two hours while enjoying music from DJ Hendock. Guests were also served a heart-healthy meal of sandwiches, pickles, chips and water.

An emphasis was placed on booths related to heart health, including students from the Troy University health and biology departments, who had models available to help Heart Walk participants better understand the workings of the human body and the relationships between different parts of the body and how they work together. Members of Pike Internal Medicine answered health-related questions and gave blood pressure checks. A nutritionist talked with participants about healthy eating and offer suggestions for heart-healthy meals. Jacob Fannin of Shady Grove Tactical showed guests how to use tourniquets to “stop the bleed” in trauma situation and how to perform CPR.