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A UNIQUE Walk   WALK OF LIFE - May 14, 2011

By Barbara Kennedy-Executive Director - Cardiac Health Foundation Of Canada

The WALK OF LIFE is UNIQUE. It is NOT like every Walk or Run that meets outside under tents...It doesn't disrupt the fabric of a busy city...RATHER, family, friends & local supporters gather inside a beautiful venue, are treated royally and then proceed outside into a breathtaking parkland, championing the cause of cardiac rehabilitation.

The re-branding of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada has positively raised the profile of the organization and its mission to advocate prevention, education and cardiac rehabilitation. As a result, last year's major campaign - the WALK OF LIFE in Toronto - was an enormous success with a record 1,500 participants. The staggering 50% increase in attendance over the previous year was evident as the energized crowd vehemently applauded when the President of the Foundation, Leo DelZotto, and the Chair of the WALK, Bruce Avery, announced that a record $450,000 was raised. These funds were utilized for medical equipment purchases, facility improvements, patient education & supporting literature at over 30 cardiac rehab centres located across Canada and further advanced individual National WALK OF LIFE campaigns. Across the nation, over 5,600 people participated and close to $1 Million was raised for their cardiac rehabilitation programs. The Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada's affiliation with the Mikey Network provided defibrillators nationwide. Additionally, four $3,000 graduate scholarships were awarded for research at the CACR symposium, and several major professional and public education lectures were presented throughout the year.

To accommodate the growing number of people that are showing their support, either by walking or running, this year's registration and pre-walk festivities for the GTA will encompass the entire ground level of the Ontario Science Centre and the spacious GREAT HALL. The new 5 KM Run will continue along with the traditional 3 KM & 5 KM WALK through the picturesque ET Seton Park. The top three male and female runners will be awarded wonderful prizes. Last year's winner, John C. Healy, a young former cardiac rehab patient, finished the run in an astounding 17:38. He will be defending his record against anyone who prefers to run and wants to challenge him.

Several OTHER NEW challenges are being offered this year. A SCHOOL Team competition aimed at secondary and post-secondary schools has been initiated to promote exercise as a lifelong commitment to heart health. Prizes for the top fundraising school teams include a Reebok Tomahawk Exercise Bike (donated by the Fitness Institute & National Fitness Products of Canada) for first place and a Philips HeartStart On Site Defibrillator (donated by the Mikey Network) for second. A FRIENDS & FAMILY Team category has been added to the traditional CORPORATE Team competition. The top three prizes include draws for Toronto Maple Leafs hockey tickets, Toronto Blue Jays Baseball tickets, dining/spa/apparel gift certificates, fitness club memberships, OSC & movie passes, and more! To encourage participation amongst TRIDEL managed condominiums, Del Property Management has offered a treadmill (donated by Pool People Ltd.) to the condominium ( in their group) that raises the most funds. And last year's top INDIVIDUAL fundraiser, Irving Buchbinder, who raised a record $11,005, challenges anyone to beat him. An amazing gentleman and a survivor, Irving has won this award for the past ten years. He is a force to be reckoned with!

Sponsors, donors and volunteers have all contributed greatly to the success of the WALK OF LIFE, providing generous monetary and in-kind donations. NATIONAL SPONSORS include: Tridel; Rogers Communications; the Mikey Network; Universal Workers Union LIUNA Local 183; The Printing House; Great-West Life, London Life & Canada Life; The Brand Factory; The Bank Of Montreal; Inno-Vite; and ParticipACTION. A heart healthy breakfast will be supplied by Whole Foods Market; a morning wake-up coffee by Marigolds & Onions; drinking water from Active Green & Ross; and a ride up the hill to the OSC (at the end of the WALK), in a luxury Sprinter passenger van will be offered to weary participants by the Mercedes-Benz Toronto Area Retail Group!

Roger Petersen, anchor/reporter for CityNews, has once again graciously offered to serve as the program host and introduce the surprise celebrities; entertainment by members of the Toronto All Star Big Band ; and John Stanton, this year's WALK OF LIFE Honorary Chair. Mr. Stanton is the founder of the Running Room & the Walking Room. He is a best selling author of eight books on running and a true advocate of WALKING & RUNNING. He has received numerous national awards for his promotion of cardiovascular health in Canadians, is a recipient of the Order Of Canada and served as Vice-President of the Canadian Commonwealth Games.

A liaison has been established with the OSC to make the event educational as well as entertaining. Activities are being offered for kids and parents alike with Science Centre Learning Modules, Kids Zone, exhibits, give-aways from sponsors, and even blood pressure testing from Sunnybrook HSC. And as part of the initiative to register early, a special EARLY BIRD Draw Prize has been donated by the Cleveland Clinic Canada. Those who register before April 20th will be eligible to win the Executive Health program prize - a comprehensive five hour head to toe physical & wellness evaluation, personalized health recommendations & use of the urgent care program for 12 months ( value: $2,595).

All of the incentive prizes for individual fundraising have been donated by generous sponsors. This differentiates the Cardiac Health Foundation from many other charities that purchase these to entice donations. The prizes chosen all represent eco-friendly and new technology products such as a wireless charging system, the latest iPod nano and the iPhone 4.

Additional local sponsors that have not been mentioned are: Travelers Canada; Sigmund Soudack & Associates; Ozz Electric; AON Risk Services; BNP Paribas; Dorsay Development; Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics; Cervini Painting & Decorating; Chartwell Seniors Housing REIT; Mr. Marble; RBC-Royal Bank: Heathwood Homes ; Drive Agency; Toronto EMS Cardiac Safe City; Brandon Communications; and Del Condominium Life.

With so many wonderful happenings, the Saturday May 14th WALK OF LIFE is once again promising to reach maximum capacity. Register early to reserve your spot and take advantage of the EARLY BIRD draw. All participants receive a FREE T-Shirt, parking, breakfast, entertainment, give-aways and more. On-line registration: Click Here to REGISTER. Contact 416-730-8299 or info@cardiachealth.ca with any inquiries.

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