Strong support for heart health in Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Strong support for heart health in Hawaii

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Lori Suan; American Heart Association Lori Suan; American Heart Association
Jen Chahanovich; CEO of Pali Momi Medical Center Jen Chahanovich; CEO of Pali Momi Medical Center
Rick Blangiardi; chair of the 2013 Heart Walk Rick Blangiardi; chair of the 2013 Heart Walk

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The threat of rain didn't stop hundreds of dedicated people from supporting a meaningful cause on Saturday morning. They laced up their sneakers for the 20th annual Oahu Heart Walk in Waikiki. It's a signature event for the American Heart Association.

"It really brings our mission to life. It allows people to get out, get active which is a very core message that we're trying to get out to people to take responsibility and individual responsibility for our own health," explained Lori Suan of the American Heart Association.

More than 3,200 people die each year in Hawaii from heart disease. Organizers hope to lower that figure.

"In this decade, what's different is the American Heart Association is putting a stronger focus on prevention, so throughout the community we're rolling out initiatives that really go towards improving heart health," Suan said.

People chose between a one-mile route around Kapiolani Park or a 4.5 mile course around Diamond Head. Several local companies signed up for the challenge.

"We have a lot of employees here today. We get out and we walk. We get exercise which helps our hearts and we get to socialize and see everyone, so it's always a great event. We love participating," said Jen Chahanovich, CEO of Pali Momi Medical Center.

"As I look around the park and see all these companies with their tents and their employees, everybody is just having a great time," said Rick Blangiardi, chair of the 2013 Heart Walk.

The goal was to raise $375,000. Organizers said the donations actually ended up exceeding $400,000.

"The money is used for our core focus areas which is advocacy, our prevention and treatment programs. We do quality improvements in the hospitals," said Suan.

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