The 2012 Rio Salado College Heart Walk team is gearing up for this year’s Phoenix Heart Walk which will take place on February 25 at 9 a.m. at Tempe Beach Park.
The team, nicknamed “The Rio Way,” has been participating in the annual American Heart Association (AHA) fundraiser since 2002. Sheila Barham, administrative assistant to the college president, has been the team captain for all 11 years that the team has been active.
"I became involved because my husband had a heart attack in the summer of 2001. When the heart walk started in February 2002, I really wanted to participate. It was important to me on a personal level."
Barham said she believes the team represents an important part of the Rio Salado College culture.
“When we talk about ‘The Rio Way,’ we’re talking about going above and beyond what’s expected and I think that’s what our heart walk team represents,” Barham said. “Participating in the heart walk is a great way for the Rio community to show its commitment to wellness as a core value.”
The Phoenix Heart Walk is a five kilometer walk-a-thon held annually by the AHA to raise funds for research and awareness programs.
“This walk helps get the funds that are needed to do research,” Barham said. “Without money, the research doesn't get done and without the research you just don't know what we're missing.”
This year’s walk is being dedicated to the memory of Sandia Hayes who was a member of Rio’s heart walk team for many years. Hayes was lost to cardiovascular disease in 2011.
“Even when her health would no longer allow her to walk with us, she continued to donate and support the team,” Barham said.
According to Dana Reid, dean of instruction at Rio Salado, the dedication was an obvious decision for the team.
“Not only was Sandia a close friend, but she was also a strong advocate for the heart walk team and we wanted to do something to honor her memory,” Reid said. “She is truly missed by all of us who knew her well.”
The 2012 Rio Way Heart Walk team is seeking members and donations until February 22. The event is open to anyone who would like participate. Contact Sheila Barham at Rio Salado College or visit the team’s heart walk profile page for more information.