Uniontown's annual walk for heart health draws hundreds, raises thousands
By Cindy Ekas
Published: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Dr. Muhammed Raza, interventional cardiologist at the Uniontown Hospital, wants to educate the Fayette County community about the alarming rate of cardiovascular disease and what steps can be taken to prevent it.
That's why he agreed to serve as chairman of the American Heart Association's Heart Walk held Saturday at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, in North Union Township, where approximately 350 people attended and an estimated $40,000 was raised to fund critical research and educational programs.
“We believe that improving cardiovascular health in Fayette County is one of the hospital's goals,” Raza said just moments before the walk began. “Over the years, the Uniontown Hospital has developed a great affiliation with the American Heart Association. We work together to jointly provide services and education to county residents.”
Fayette County has one of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Pennsylvania, according to Raza.
“To maintain cardiovascular health, we want people to know that they need to exercise and eat a healthy diet,” he said. “We encourage people to walk because physical activity is the way to stay healthy.”
Agreeing was Karen Colbert, director of communications for the American Heart Association's Great Rivers Affiliate in Pittsburgh.
“Studies have shown that walking 30 minutes a day adds two hours to your life,” Colbert said. “Walking is the easiest form of exercise and has the lowest dropout rate. You can walk anywhere and you don't need to buy expensive equipment.”
Raza said it's important for Uniontown Hospital and the American Heart Association to continue to work together to raise awareness in the community.
The risk factors of heart disease include obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of physical activity and poor diet, according to Raza.
Sandy Thorpe, assistant vice president of nursing at the Uniontown Hospital, said about 16 teams from the hospital participated in the Heart Walk. Each one of those teams had about 10 members. Uniontown Hospital and Jamieson Family Markets are the two corporate sponsors of the event.
“The teams are made up of friends and family members of hospital employees,” Thorpe said. “Uniontown Hospital has a large presence at the Heart Walk every year.”
Sheila Mechling, president of the American Heart Association's Fayette County Division, said she is very active in the nonprofit organization because she realizes the importance of raising money to fight heart disease. Her personal life has been touched by the tragedy of heart disease on many occasions.
“My mother passed away of congestive heart failure four years ago,” Mechling said. “My sister underwent open heart surgery twice. All eight of my brothers and sisters died of heart attacks. My husband, Russ Mechling, underwent heart bypass surgery around the same time my mother died.”
Longtime heart association board member Leda Gismondi, whose husband died of heart disease, encouraged Russ and Sheila Mechling to become involved.
“After that, I was hooked,” Mechling said. “I'm going to serve as the Heart Ball chair again this year. Fayette County has one of the highest cardiovascular disease rates in the state. We want to get the word out. We're here to spread information. We want people to change their lifestyles.”
Marshall Fee, who just celebrated his first birthday, served as the 2012 Fayette County Heart Walk spokesperson.
His mother, Molly Fee, a Colorado native who now lives in Smock, said Marshall was born with congenital heart disease.
“Marshall was born with half of a heart,” Molly Fee said. “He underwent two heart surgeries by the time he was 3 months old. We didn't find out until he was born. We had no awareness of congenital heart disease.”
Fee said she feels very honored to have an opportunity to tell the story about her baby's disease and to help spread the word about the importance of the American Heart Association.
“Babies like Marshall might not have survived without the fundraising efforts of the American Heart Association,” Colbert said.
Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville junior ROTC program a training ground
- FAA pushes for upgrades to Fayette airport
- WVU students aim for billiards record to help Make-A-Wish
- Troop cuts worry vets in Fayette
- Fayette County bomb scare caused by kids, police say
- Southmoreland seniors to don caps and gowns June 4
- Geibel 3-sport star enjoys tapping onstage
- Geibel musical director enjoys ‘group of very talented dancers’
- Dawson council to meet tonight
- Connellsville rec board making plans for summer
- W.Va. woman in high-speed Fayette chase sentenced to 7 to 14 years