News & Events

Heart Walk Fundraiser

August 5, 2011

Backus Hospital is seeking team captains and walkers to participate in the annual Rocky Neck Heart Walk to be held Sunday, Oct. 2, beginning at 10 a.m. at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic.

The American Heart Association held its annual captain  kickoff the Mohegan Sun.

Team captains from throughout the region attended the heart-healthy breakfast, which is designed to rally captains and explain their roles in recruiting walkers for the event.

Backus President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Whitehead, Chair of this year’s Heart Walk, said the 2011 goal is to raise $385,000. The goal for the Backus team, which over the years has consistently ranked as a top five fundraising company, is to raise $25,000 – a substantial increase over prior years.

Mr. Whitehead described his chairmanship as a personal crusade, as heart disease runs in his family. The walk will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, beginning at 10 a.m. at Rocky Neck in Niantic.

“Fundraising can be fun and as a Team Captain it is your responsibility to recruit and motivate your teammates,” Mr. Whitehead told the audience. “But more importantly, thank them for their efforts. Every dollar raised helps further the mission of the American Heart Association. No contribution is too small. $15 can make the newest CPR Guidelines available to an emergency care provider. $20 could teach up to 50 people how to assess their risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke and provide the steps for them to identify and reduce their risks.”

A substantial amount of money raised goes towards causes in Connecticut. Mr. Whitehead said currently, the organization is funding more than $7 million in scientific research in the state.

“The work of the American Heart Association can be seen everywhere, he said. “Every time someone goes into cardiac arrest and a bystander performs CPR, or better yet initiates the Chain of Survival, the American Heart Association is there. Every time a woman reaches into her medicine cabinet and takes a medication to treat her high cholesterol or high blood pressure, the American Heart Association is there. Every time the first responder to a cardiac arrest is a police officer with an AED in his or her vehicle, the American Heart Association is there.”

Also at the event, East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica talked about how his wife passed away due to a heart attack the day after Christmas in 2009. She ate well, didn’t smoke and exercised regularly, but suffered from Syndrome X, a rare disease that not much is known about. He said her death underscores the importance of raising money for research to help eradicate heart disease, which is the nation’s No. 1 killer.

John Bailey, Director of Government Relations for the Heart Association, talked about the importance of advocacy, including the You’re the Cure network. Current advocacy efforts include requiring CPR for high school students to graduate and for public schools to make their grounds and facilities available to the public for recreational activities.