By Betsy Simnacher
Heart disease is often called a “silent killer” because symptoms like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol are mostly painless, at least at first. Since February is American Heart Month, raising funds for a charity that supports heart disease research and education is a worthy cause for your community.
Consider holding an event with a cooking theme, providing recipes that “focus on foods that have a healthier slant,” suggests Jackie Boucher, vice president for education at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. Any of the recipes from the American Heart Association would be good choices.
Or another healthy idea is hosting a community 5K run/walk. If you’re going to plan a 5K, remember to:
- Scale your event to your resources. Your run could use a school track or public trail. Since a 5K is a little over 3 miles, consider also including a one-mile fun run for kids or those who don’t think they can tackle the longer race.
- Use volunteers to man water stations.
- Ask local businesses and civic organizations to display posters and brochures. A local running store can be a great resource.
- Also ask for donations of drinks, food, coupons – and money.
- Plan a small ceremony to recognize top finishers.
- Provide information about the organization your race is benefitting.
Also be sure to include information about heart disease. Websites like Million Hearts have resources you can use. And use your community newsletter and web site to spread the news, not just about your race but also about heart disease.
Boucher says that heart-healthy events can provide critical education for the community.
“Many women still don’t know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women,” Boucher says. But that doesn’t mean men don’t have reason to become knowledgeable about symptoms and prevention. Heart disease caused one in every four male deaths in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So this year, pledge to get heart healthy!