Photo courtesy of Laura Smith
Several walkers finishing the 2011 Hearts in the Park walk.

 

By Kristin Douty

Allegheny General Hospital needs Northsiders of all ages to join the fight against heart disease at their 11th Annual Hearts in the Park Walk on May 10.

Every spring, AGH’s Cardiovascular Institute hosts a 2-mile walk in Allegheny Commons Park, located directly across from the hospital. All event proceeds help fund research that aims to prevent and cure heart disease.

Senior Manager for the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Lori Dernus has organized the event for the past 11 years. Dernus recalls the early years of the Hearts in the Park Walk.

“11 years ago, only 80 people participated in the event,” Dernus said. “This year there are 500 people expected to walk. The event has really grown.”

The event is held in memory of its founder and AGH cardiovascular surgeon, James A. Magovern, MD. Magovern was recruited to AGH in 1962 as a surgeon and grew to become a nationally recognized leader in heart surgery and a promoter of research.

Dernus notes that the walk is a testament to Magovern’s legacy as a heart surgeon and promoter of medical research.

“The walk is really about Magovern’s vision to bring children, adults and the elderly together to learn about heart disease,” Dernus said.

Participants are provided with free healthy produce and water for snacks, blood pressure screenings and chair massages, courtesy of the hospital’s Healthy Heart Expo. The event also features educational booths where participants can learn about maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle at any age.

Dernus says that family dogs are also welcome to join in the fun – there are gifts and treats available at the park.

Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by announcements at 9 a.m. Door prizes are available to the first participants to arrive, provided by the Pittsburgh Zoo and the National Aviary. The walk kicks off at 9:30 a.m.

To register, visit the event website at www.HeartsinthePark.com.