Health & Wellness

Thousands Support Second Annual American Heart Association Greater Northern NJ Heart Walk

Among the first walkers to leave the starting gate. Credits: Alan Grossman
Youngsters enjoy meeting Star Wars characters during the registration period. Credits: Alan Grossman
Lifestyle Change Award winners (from left) AhavaFelicidad, Jill Ronda, Matthew Smith, Catherine Pryor, and Desheca Archer Copeland. Alan Rodriguez could not be present. Credits: Alan Grossman
Participants do stretching exercises before the walk began. Credits: Alan Grossman
The walk begins after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:40 am.  Credits: Alan Grossman

WEST ORANGE, NJ – As heart disease continues to be the number one health threat for Americans, this year’s American Heart Association (AHA) Greater Northern New Jersey Heart Walk raised much needed funds to support the local organization’s initiatives to help people eat better, move more and live longer.

With the combined efforts of thousands of walkers, donors and volunteers who participated in and supported this event on Sunday morning at the Reservoir behind the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, more than $300,000 was raised to help fight heart disease and stroke.

“This is an exciting day for us as we achieve our $300,000 event goal, and close in on our half-a-million-dollar goal for the year,” said NNJ Hearth Association chair Stephen Zieniewicz, president and CEO of RWJ Barnabas Health. “This is a day to cherish the memories of loved ones and honored friends who lost their lives to heart disease and stroke. We are also here to honor survivors of this disease. They are symbols of hope and courage.”

Sign Up for E-News

This annual event, which features a one-or three-mile non-competitive walk, is the cornerstone walking, recognition and celebration event that brings together thousands of people to help raise funds to support lifesaving cardiovascular research.

One survivor who spoke before the walk began was AhavaFelicidad, who called herself “a walking miracle.” Felicidad inspired the crowd with her story of overcoming congestive heart failure, which struck her when she was a 25-year-old mother.

“It started with a deep cough that sounded almost like pneumonia…I was constantly out of breath, and couldn’t walk up the stairs,” said Felicidad, who soon learned that her heart was enlarged and pumping at only 20 percent of capacity.

She was put on a heart transplant list, but was determined to fight the disease on her own terms. Felicidad started a diet and workout regime that has strengthened her heart over the past three years.

“I refused to give up,” said Felicidad, who urged people in similar circumstances to not be afraid to express their emotions to others and surround themselves with positive people. “Mothers should talk to their children about this disease if they have it…Your silence does not serve anyone.”

She was one of six people to receive the association’s Lifestyle Change Award, which was given out at the end of the opening ceremonies on Sunday.

Other recipients included Jill Ronda, who reversed her pre-diabetes diagnosis by giving up sugar and losing 40 pounds; Matthew Smith, who greatly lowered his blood pressure by losing 75 pounds; Catherine Pryor, who lost 60 pounds; Desheca Archer Copeland, who lost 30 pounds and can now take part in a six-mile run; and Alan Rodriguez, who could not be present.

The singing group Dapper Dans performed the national anthem. During the registration period, people benefitted from free health screenings, expert cardiovascular advice and health-related giveaways. All participants received a red wristband, which indicated to Turtle Back Zoo staff that they could enter the zoo for $5 on Sunday only.

A new element this year was the association’s Hearts of Hope initiative, which gave people an opportunity to support cutting-edge scientific research and education/advocacy programs by buying a heart that memorializes or pays tribute to a loved one affected by cardiovascular disease or stroke. There was an area up the hill that featured these hearts, which were customized with the names of loved ones.

Event sponsors included Bayer (Healthy for Good sponsor), RWJBarnabas Health (Kids Heart Challenge sponsor), and local sponsors were Dr. Scholl’s, BARD, NJM Insurance Group, Novartis, ADP, Brach Eichler LLC, Merck, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, Kindred Hospital of New Jersey and Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Livingston

Holiday Lights Spectacular Opens at Turtle Back Zoo

November 17, 2017

WEST ORANGE, NJ — After reaching its 12th-consecutive attendance milestone in 2016 with 795,558 visitors during its 10th anniversary Holiday Lights Spectacular, the Turtle Back Zoo invites the public to the 11th annual Holiday Lights Spectacular, featuring 50 figures illuminated by one million lights both at the zoo and the surrounding Essex County South Mountain Recreation ...

Now That PSATs are Done, It's Time to Plan a Testing Schedule

Each year, roughly 1.5 million students take the SAT and roughly the same number of students take the ACT each year as well. Most college bound students need to take one of these tests to showcase their academic abilities and gain admission to the college of their choosing. (Curious about test optional colleges? Click here.) 

Scheduling early and planning your test ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, November 19, 11:30 AM

Goldfish Swim School Livingston, Livingston

Grand Opening Goldfish Swim School Livingston

Education Health & Wellness Sports

Carousel_image_ac1908193243921f0ecb_img_2915

Sun, November 19, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 205 Fairmount Avenue

Real Estate

Carousel_image_607e7b71b1255f167016_img_3263

Sun, November 19, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 312 Elissa Court South Plainfield

Real Estate

Parting Advice from Four Decades on the Front Lines of Local News

November 11, 2017

In February 1978 I walked into the office of The Rahway News-Record and Clark Patriot to begin what I thought was to be a short-term job stepping stone. 

Instead, it turned out to be a nearly 40-year odyssey in local journalism—including the last eight—overwhelmingly great—years with The Alternative Press (TapInto.Net).

I have decided it is time to spend more time in ...

Livingston Offices to Close for Thanksgiving Holiday; No Garbage or Recycling Pickup on Thanksgiving Day

November 18, 2017

LIVINGSTON, NJ – All Township of Livingston offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

There will be no garbage or recycling pickup on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23. Garbage for those with Monday/Thursday pickup will be collected on the next regularly scheduled day, Monday, Nov. 27.

Recycling collection will move back one ...

Sustained, Severe Cuts Equal Setbacks at NJ Department of Environmental Protection

November 6, 2017

Long-term budget and staff cuts have severely impacted the ability of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to carry out critical work to protect New Jersey’s environment and residents. This has serious implications for wildlife, public health and our economy. DEP is charged with managing and protecting the State’s environment and natural resources.

This ...

The Last Game

My daughter recently played the last soccer game of her career.  

 

Yippee!  No more practices!  No more tournaments!  No more long drives to obscure fields!  No more tiny black turf pellets all over the car!

 

No more selfish surges of pride watching her athletic achievements.  No more thrilling victories.

 

My daughter is a ...