Volunteers raise money for the American Heart Association at Heart Walk


A Group of Upward Bound students from Kent State’s College of Public Health participated in the annual Heart Walk at Infocision Stadium in Akron Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

Samantha Ickes

The American Heart Association hosted a Heart Walk to raise awareness for heart disease Saturday morning at the University of Akron. 

Colleen Repie, the metro executive director of the American Heart Association of Akron, said at least 3,000 people participated in the walk to raise money for the organization’s mission.

Participants walked 2.5 miles through the Akron campus, ending at the InfoCision Stadium.

“This is the American Heart Association’s largest event,” Repie said.

The American Heart Association holds three Akron events throughout the year.

The Kent State College of Public Health participated in this year’s walk.

“Every year for the last four, we put a team together to raise money for the Heart Association,” said Ken Slenkovich, Assistant Dean of the College of Public Health.

The College of Public Health students also had the opportunity to meet workers and officials in their field of collegiate study. 

“It’s a good opportunity for our students to network,” said Sonia Alemagno, dean of the College of Public Health. “It fits really well with the mission of the college to get the word out to prevent heart disease.”

About 70 people participated in the College of Public Health’s team. Donations averaged $2,530 before the walk began and will be accepted up to two months after the event.

“My experience with the walk is it’s a great way to just raise awareness with heart disease,” said Dawn Pressley, the graduate co-chair of the Public Health Student Alliance.

Joy Yala, undergraduate co-chair of PHSA, said she saw the event as a chance for the college to come together to raise awareness for heart health, something that is important to everyone.

“The Heart Walk raises money for funds for research,” said Dave Rawley, a walk participant affiliated with the Giant Eagle team. “This is for people. My son was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.”

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a heart condition where the left ventricle of the heart is not fully developed.

Money from the Heart Walk is used for research and helps with the foundation of the Norwood, Glenn and Fontan series, which is a three-step palliative procedure to improve the conditions of hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Palliative treatments are treatments that ease the symptoms but do not provide a cure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

After undergoing the surgeries, Rawley’s son’s conditions improved, and he is now 15 years old.

“It is important to me,” Rawley said. “It is important to the community.”

Contact Samantha Ickes at [email protected].