Rutherford County Heart Walk to raise thousands for heart disease research, bring community together

Photo courtesy of the American Heart Association

Hundreds of Rutherford County and Middle Tennessee hearts will be pumping at the Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital on Saturday as citizens walk and raise money for the fight against heart disease.

The 2017 Rutherford County Heart Walk, which is a part of a national, American Heart Association sponsored fundraising event held in hundreds of cities and counties, has currently raised over $130,000 in donations from citizens supporting research and the battle against heart disease.

“The money that we raise goes directly back into research,” said Kristin Palmer, the director of communications and marketing for the Nashville American Heart Association. “The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are some of the leading funders of cardiovascular research. When we raise money, we continue to provide more resources and research to help folks to maintain healthy behavior. That money is going straight back into the community.”

According to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Health, 24 percent of Tennesseans who died in 2015 died of a heart disease. The press release also states that in 2014, Tennessee had the seventh highest heart disease rate and the third-highest age-adjusted stroke rate in the United States. Research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention displays that about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, and heart disease is the number one cause of death for most ethnicities. A press release from the American Heart Association stated that as of 2014, stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in America.

“(The heart walk) is an effort to get people out there to realize that heart disease is a real thing and (to learn) some steps to live heart-healthy,” Palmer said. “That’s a major part of it, helping Middle Tennessee, Rutherford County, specifically, recognize how deadly heart disease is and how rampant it is … It’s preventable. So, that’s our mission.”

The event will include two walking tracks around the hospital, a three-mile track for all walkers and a one-mile for survivors of heart disease. The walk will begin at 9 a.m.

“Along the walk, we’ll have different little activations set up,” Palmer said. “You might come to a part of the walk where it’s like, ‘Let’s get your heart pumping. Everybody do 10 jumping jacks.’ So, we’ll have a bunch of things set up on the actual track itself.”

Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and Trustpoint Hospital, the two medical centers sponsoring the Heart Walk, will also have stations set up on Saturday to allow donors and volunteers to become further engaged in healthy living.

“There will definitely be tons of fun things to do for families,” Palmer said. “You can learn some ways to get out there, get new exercise ideas, new recipe ideas, even check your blood pressure … It’s just a really great way for the community to come together and raise awareness for heart disease.”

The Rutherford County Heart Walk has been advertised through social media, media outlets and, most often for survivors and families affected by heart disease, by word of mouth.

“Being the number one killer and number five killer, you relate somehow to heart disease,” Palmer said. 

To learn more about the Rutherford County Heart Walk or to donate to the Heart Walk, visit here.

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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