Coming together for charity

By Deanna Cabinian

A few hundred walkers came for the American Heart Walk at DeKalb High School’s track Sunday. The Heart Walk is a charity event that raises money to fight heart disease and stroke.

Registration for the walk began at noon. The opening ceremonies began at 12:30 p.m.

Rod Schairer of the National Bank and Trust Company of Sycamore, and chair of this year’s walk, made some opening remarks thanking various sponsors, heart association volunteers and participants.

Stephanie Brown, the regional director of the Rockford branch of the American Heart Association office, also made a few comments and recognized participants who raised $500 and $1,000. They received certificates and medals.

“I really appreciate everyone being out here,” Brown said.

People of all ages came out for the heart walk. Everyone from young children to the elderly participated. Quite a few walkers had children in strollers, and some participants brought their dogs.

There was a quick warm-up for walkers before they began the walk at 1 p.m. Walkers were informed they could walk as little or as much as they liked. Three laps around the track equaled one mile.

There was a large, red cardboard heart in the middle of the track, where many participants had their pictures taken.

The NIU sorority Sigma Lambda Sigma had members volunteering at the event. They helped out with registration, handed food and water to walkers and cheered walkers on.

“It’s good for the community because it helps raise money for this organization,” said Sarah Rutkowski, a sophomore community health major and member of Sigma Lambda Sigma. Rutkowski said they help at the event every year.

Many area businesses participated as well. Curves of Sycamore had teams of walkers.

Jean Tolliver, who exercises at Curves, said she participated in the walk because of her father.

“My father had a heart attack,” Tolliver said. “This is a good organization. It helps a lot of people.”

Penny Walz also walked with the Curves team, which had about 30 members.

“Everybody usually concentrates on the cancer walks,” Walz said. She said people usually don’t focus on the heart walk and that this was her way of showing support for the American Heart Association.

Walz said the owner of Curves posted a sign-up sheet at the facility and that many of the women who exercise there signed up. She said the group collected more than $2,000.

The DeKalb Clinic also had a team of walkers. Dr. Jagbish Patel, a cardiologist at the DeKalb Clinic, said the clinic participates in the walk every year.

Patel said the heart walk is good because it promotes health care and the prevention of heart attacks and stroke.

“It raises and boosts the morale of community people to donate money and support people who have survived heart attacks,” he said.

The Heart Walk was sponsored by Kishwaukee Community Hospital and the American Heart Association.

Refreshments and free sandwiches from Subway, a national sponsor of the American Heart Walk, were provided.

Rockford’s B95 radio station broadcast live from the event. The band Middle Ground also performed.