Above: Several walkers finished last year’s Hearts in the Park walk. (Photo courtesy Laura Smith).

by Megan Trimble

Allegheny General Hospital is calling all Northsiders to learn more about their hearts, health and community next month.

AGH’s Cardiovascular Institute is hosting its 10th annual Hearts in the Park Walk on Saturday, May 11 at the Allegheny Commons Park— directly across form the hospital. Registration for the event begins at 8 a.m., followed by announcements and the event kickoff at 9 a.m. Awards, announcements and raffle drawings will follow the walk at 10 a.m.

Senior Manager for the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Lori Dernus said the event typically draws in 300 to 400 participants from across the city, and she would like to see 500 walkers celebrating the 10th anniversary.

Though this year, organizers have placed special focus on getting more Northsiders involved in the walk.

“It’s a really great cause that happens right here in the neighborhood,” said Allegheny General Hospital Partnership Coordinator Laura Smith. “Some of the money raised goes towards maintaining Allegheny Commons Park.”

Two local schools, North Catholic and Allegheny Traditional Academy, will have their teachers participate in a walk off, and the winning classroom will receive $1,000 worth of athletic equipment.

The rest of the proceeds benefit the Allegheny Heart Institute and the Allegheny General Hospital Cardiovascular Institute to support of research and treatment for cardiovascular disease.

In an effort to get Northsiders out for the walk, the Northside Leadership Conference has promised to provide a catered meal from Bistro to Go to the Northside community group with the most participating members.

The 2 mile walk is held in memory of James A. Magovern, MD, a cardiac surgeon and researcher who spent his career at AGH. Magovern started the event to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and encourage people to walk and exercise for a healthy lifestyle.

Dernus said that the fun and easy event targets families and engages children, several of who “get really excited about it.”

“It’s a great event for anyone who can walk,” Dernus said. “It’s really an easy flat walk and anyone can turn around if it seems to far, but it’s not too cumbersome for patients, children or the elderly.”

The event will feature a free Prescription for a Healthy Heart Expo for all registered walkers. The expo will provide free blood pressure screenings, chair massages and education on living a heart-healthy lifestyle, including diet, weight control and exercise.

Dernus sees the walk as a fun way to bring the community together for a morning.

“Patients, friends and family can come together and walk right along side the heart surgeons and hospital staff for a good cause,” she said.

Registration, of $20 per person or $75 for a family of five, must be completed by May 3. All registered walkers receive a Hearts in the Park T-shirt and discounted admission passes to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum and National Aviary.  Teams of

Interested participants can register online by visiting www.HeartsinthePark.com and can call 412.359.5026 for more information or a registration brochure.