AUBURN — The 14th annual Central Maine Heart Walk took place on Sept. 16 in Lewiston/Auburn, Rumford and Bridgton to benefit the life-saving research and education of the American Heart Association. The AHA’s largest event in Central Maine, the flagship walk in Lewiston/Auburn drew approximately 900 walkers who together raised over $112,000. The event was hosted by the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn.
Susan Keiler, chief operating officer at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center and the 2012 Central Maine Heart Walk chairwoman, greeted walkers on a sunny and crisp morning. “In addition to promoting a healthier lifestyle, today’s walk will help raise much needed funds to support heart and stroke research, education and advocacy," said Keiler. "With a great leadership team, we have seen tremendous growth of this walk in recent years. The funds you helped raise today will truly make a difference – across the nation and right here in Maine.”
The top fundraising company teams were Central Maine Medical Center, who took the lead by raising almost $21,000, followed by TD Bank, GE Energy and St. Mary’s Health System. The top individual fundraising walkers were Paul Smith of TD Bank; Pam Beaule of St. Mary’s Health System; Louise Comeau of TD Bank; Melody and Jerry Poisson of Central Maine Medical Center; and Dr. William Phillips of Central Maine Medical Center.
Anchor Tracy Sabol of News 8 WMTW emceed the morning’s opening ceremonies. Sabol presented Ralph Cornette with the 2012 Lifestyle Change Award.
Cornette, a heart survivor who spoke at last year’s Heart Walk, was acknowledged for making significant changes to improve his heart health. He has lost more than 100 pounds since 2006 and has made walking a part of his daily routine and is paying closer attention to his eating habits. Cornette suffered a cardiac arrest last year while at a conference for heart survivors and was saved by Dr. William Phillips.
Heart Survivor Phil Crawford, accompanied by his wife Joan, shared his personal story of survival and encouraged fellow heart disease survivors to join the local Mended Hearts Chapter.
Walkers then embarked on either a one-mile or 5K walk along the L/A Trails Riverwalk. New this year, the event also included a 5K “Fun Run.” Following the walk/run, the band Bluezberry Jam entertained. Central Maine Medical Center provided blood pressure screenings and St. Mary’s Health System provided cholesterol screenings. Children were able to enjoy rock climbing wall, bounce house, face painting and other activities in the Kids Zone. To add to the fun, Zumba lessons were offered to attendees.
In addition to the main event in Lewiston/Auburn, two satellite walks were held in Rumford and Bridgton. Volunteers raised more than $6,000 at the Rumford satellite walk, led by Jane Bubar of Rumford Hospital, with about 130 walkers. Trina Sanborn on Bridgton Hospital helped raise an additional $2,000 at the Bridgton satellite walk.
Donations can be made at www.centralmaineheartwalk.org or by calling the AHA Maine office at (207) 879-5700.