By Tamas Mondovics

With more than 242 locations ready nationwide, the American Heart Association (AHA) is gearing up to host its 2015 Tampa Bay Heart Walk Heart Walk, promising thousands of participants while raising millions of dollars toward defeating heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Many local organizations including St. Joseph’s Hospital, BayCare Health System, have joined the large roster of walkers preparing to complete the 3.2-mile walk with a one-mile route option scheduled for Saturday, November 7 at 9 a.m. at the Raymond James Stadium located at 4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.

“We support the Tampa Bay Heart Walk every year in a big way because the event aligns perfectly with our mission to improve the health of all we serve,” said BayCare CEO Steve Mason. “I’ve always thought that a great place to start improving health is with our own team members, especially since they are the ones who provide care to the community when it needs it most.”

Last year BayCare boasted of 1,600 registered walkers who raised over $238,000, boosting BayCare onto the list of the top five fundraising companies in the Tampa Bay area.

According to event organizers, companywide St. Joseph’s participation of this year’s campaign is as strong as ever with 150 teams and nearly 1,000 team members already on the list, among them 18 teams representing St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, BayCare’s newest hospital.

One of those dedicated teams—appropriately named Soul Revivors—represents the hospital’s Critical Care Department led by Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse Tiffany Beckett. As captain of her 13-member team, Beckett encouraged fellow nurse Monique Tooley to get involved with the campaign after learning of the recent death of Tooley’s brother, Michael, who died from a sudden heart attack at age 47. Once Tooley posted information about the upcoming Heart Walk on her personal Facebook page, family and friends wasted no time to respond with donations to support the cause, which led to the raising of more than $1,300, with nearly a month to go (at time of writing this article).

Proceeds from the Heart Walk go toward efforts to prevent heart disease and stroke. For information, visit www.heart.org or www.baycare.org.