Central Park was filled with children and families — and dogs — Saturday morning as the 2018 Southeastern Oklahoma Heart Walk ‘rocked the walk.’ 

Geared toward raising awareness of heart attack and stroke, the walk served as a fundraiser and an opportunity for survivors and their families to share their stories. 

All over the park, walkers displayed signs declaring their reasons for participating. 

For Katie McNiel, like many others, there are many reasons to walk right in her own family. Katie’s sign listed family members who have passed away due to cardiovascular disease, including her father’s grandmother, who died of a stroke and heart attack, and her mother’s grandmother who died just last year after a heart attack. Katie’s mom, Deborah McNiel, works at First National Bank and walked on their team. McNiel said her cousin Jim is currently in ICU after having a heart attack last week. To battle the prevalence of heart attack and stroke in their family, McNiel said she walks regularly and tries to help her children make better choices and stay active. Katie said she participates in cheer, basketball and track—and her brothers stay active as well. 

Local businesses and other agencies were at the park as well, offering health screenings, snacks and other activities to attendees. Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Services were on site with heart health tips and information about the signs of a heart attack. The team for the City of Ardmore was headed up by Teresa Ervin, director of Parks and Recreation. “The more you move, the better off you are,” Ervin said. “We are just having a lot of fun.” The team wore glittered heart antennae along with their team t-shirts. The city’s team, “Beat of the City” sold art work made by children at the HFV Wilson Community Center all month to raise funds for the event. They started with more than 70 pieces and have sold nearly all of them. 

Presented by Mercy and Valero, along with several other sponsors, the Heart walk raised approximately $312,544 this year. 

For more information, visit www.heartwalk.org. Check out www.ardmoreite.com for a photo gallery from the event.