Group gets heart-healthyPublished 9:11pm Saturday, June 15, 2013
Becky Milburn drew a rudimentary sofa on a whiteboard propped on a table near Sentara Obici Hospital on Saturday morning.
On the sofa, she drew a potato, and suddenly her team members got it.
“Couch potato!” they shouted.
Becky and her teammates were playing a Pictionary-like game at one of the stations for the first American Heart Association HeartChase. Becky drew the “couch potato” card from a stack that included risk factors for heart disease, like lack of exercise and family history, and ways to prevent it, like not smoking and visiting a doctor regularly.
“We’re doing this to reach out to the communities we’re not able to capture,” said Teri Arnold, marketing director for the American Heart Association. Many times, folks from farther-flung communities like Suffolk and Smithfield don’t make it out to big events that are often held in areas like Virginia Beach. It’s a pattern that repeats all across the country, she said, so the American Heart Association is trying out new participatory events like the HeartChase.
Suffolk’s was one of the first ones in the entire country, and the organization was pleased with the results.
“The community responded and are excited,” said Ryan Holloway, HeartChase director for American Heart Association Hampton Roads.
About 150 participants split into 50 teams participated in the event, which had them walk about 2.4 miles while visiting different stations along the Godwin Boulevard corridor. The start and finish line was at the Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center.
The participants completed heart-healthy challenges at each of the stations, including shooting basketball hoops, playing a little badminton and demonstrating CPR. They scanned QR codes with their smartphones after completing the challenges and also earned points for finding hidden QR codes to scan.
The team that raised the most money beforehand got to pick a challenge to slow down the other teams, so everybody except the Farmers Bank No. 4 team had to do five push-ups at each station before they could complete the task at hand.
Paula Smith and her three daughters did the course together.
“My grandfather died of heart disease,” she explained. “It runs in the family, so we wanted to raise money for more research.”
“We had a lot of fun,” she added, saying the broom hockey station was the most fun for her.
But all the physical activity also motivated her to get healthier, she said.
“This has shown me I need to be in better shape,” she said. “It’s not until you do something like this that you realize that.”
The event raised $18,000, and organizers promised it will return for the second installment next year.