Bonnie Hiner lost her father to complications of heart disease and diabetes in 2011. Kim Fields has lost several high school classmates to heart disease in recent months when they were just turning 50. She realized “life could change in the blink of an eye.”
Instead of simply mourning for those who have passed away, the women, along with co-worker Tammy Godsey, are using their losses as an impetus to raise awareness and funds for the fight against heart disease, specifically for the Roanoke Regional Heart Walk held annually in Roanoke, sponsored by the American Heart Association.
Fields was recruited to help with the kick-off for the AHA walk last year by a supervisor at the Anthem Federal Employees Program where she is employed, who knew of her penchant for good works, and said “you’d be good at this.” Fields is known as the “Queen of Blood Drives,” at Anthem through Virginia Blood Services.
Fields told Hiner about the walk, leading to Hiner and her sister walking in memory of their father, which she says was “very sobering.” She has become passionate about the cause and has been invited to speak at the 2017 AHA Walk, which will be held at River’s Edge Park.
Another result of losing her father was that Hiner, in early 2016, confronted with the fact that her doctor wanted her to begin insulin injections, embarked on a “lifestyle change,” and at this point has lost 141 pounds through a combination of exercise and healthy eating. She didn’t want to “follow his path.”
The women, all of whom work at Anthem, came up with a plan to raise funds for the AHA walk through a Christmas in July Vendor Sale. “A light bulb just went off,” said Fields. They have been planning the event and recruiting vendors for a couple of months.
The fundraiser is scheduled for July 29 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Charles R. Hill Senior Center at the Vinton War Memorial complex.
There is no charge for patrons to attend. Vendors are still being accepted at a charge of $15 for a space. They are being encouraged to donate a part of their profits that day as well.
Godsey has been instrumental in soliciting raffle donations for the event with gift cards from restaurants and stores, including a pedicure from Indulgence Salon and Spa, and a couples’ carriage ride worth $75 from Spring Valley Farm. All raffle proceeds go to the AHA.
Vendors include big draw LuLaRoe, Younique Cosmetics, Ruby Ribbon, Sabika Austrian Crystal Jewelry, Pink Zebra, Lip Sense Cosmetics, Paparazzi Jewelry, Young Life Essential Oils, 31 Gifts, Tupperware, Legal Shield/Identity Theft, and more. Christy Hicks will be selling her Sweet Spot Cake Pops. There may be a Santa sighting.
Donations will be accepted from those who attend. Memory Hearts will be available for $5 to be displayed at the October Heart Walk.
This is not their only fundraiser for the AHA. On September 29, there will be a VA Paint Party hosted by Misty Adams at the Vinton Senior Center. It is open to the public for a fee of $30. The featured painting is a fall primitive with a pumpkin theme.
Elizabeth Vail, Senior Development director for the American Heart Association, says that last year the Heart Walk, their signature event, had 1,500 walkers who raised $250,000. This year’s goal is 2,000 walkers and $325,000, including funds raised at events like the Christmas in July Vendor Sale.
There will be nearly 1 million Americans “heartwalking” at over 300 events across the nation, “to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”
The 2017 Roanoke Regional Heart Walk on October 21 begins with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m., followed by the walk at 10. It goes on rain or shine.
There are one- and four-mile non-competitive walks, which are handicapped-accessible.
Children are welcome; strollers are allowed. There is a Kids Zone available. Leashed dogs are even allowed, with water bowls available along the route.
There will be a food tent in the festival area with light refreshments a picnic lunch, and a live band.
As for the Christmas in July Vendor Sale, there is still vendor space available. Call Kim Fields at 540-266-4124 or email her at email@example.com.
More information on the Heart Walk is available at www.roanokeheartwalk.org.