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American Heart Association asks:

Why do you walk to fight heart disease?

by emugoldalumni, Published April 25, 2011

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans? In fact, someone dies from CVD every 38 seconds! Heart disease also kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. And congenital cardiovascular defects are the most common cause of infant death from birth defects.

Eastern Michigan University is committed to fighting heart disease by raising $15,000 and having over 120 walkers at the Washtenaw County Heart walk on Saturday, May 14th from 8:30 a.m. - noon at Washtenaw Community College. To accomplish this goal we need YOU to help by joining an EMU Heart Walk team. By doing this you join more than a million people in 300+ cities across America in taking a stand against heart disease and helping save lives!

Director of Service EMU, Gretchen Ward - daughter of an EMU alumnus - shares why she walks:

Gretchen and Patrick
Gretchen Ward and her son Patrick walk to fight heart disease in honor of her father, George Schonfeld '72 '74.

I was driving my son Patrick home from daycare and we were talking about his upcoming birthday party (he’ll be 3 in May). I asked him who he wanted to invite to his party. He rattled off the usual suspects: mom; dad; sister; Aunts; Uncles; cousins; and finally he said “and Papa George”. This caught me off guard because Papa George is my father who died in 2001 from a heart attack. Patrick has never met Papa George. I explained that Papa George couldn’t come and he proceeded to ask “Why?” I told him because he was in heaven and can’t get here. He then told me that we could go to his “sign” (which is 3 year old talk for a tombstone) and that we could ask him to come. When I said we can absolutely go visit him at his sign, but that he wouldn’t be able to come to the party. “Why?” he said. “Because he now lives in heaven with Jesus and he won’t be able to come to the party” was my reply. Patrick thought for a minute and said “that’s okay mommy, Jesus can come too.” I concluded the conversation by saying, yes Patrick, Papa George and Jesus will be at the party, you just won’t be able to see them.

Why do I walk? I walk for my children - Patrick almost 3 and Addison 6 months, so that they won’t have to have this conversation with their kids. I walk in memory of my father, George Schonfeld,’72 and ‘74 who passed away from a heart attack at the age of 51. I walk for myself, so that I can live a long, healthy life. I walk for you, in hope that your loved ones don’t have a similar story to tell.

Support EMU’s effort to fight heart disease!

The funds EMU raises in support of the Heart Walk will support projects like these:

  • Putting up-to-the-minute research into doctors’ hands so they can better prevent and treat heart disease among patients.
  • Groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research - about 36,000 babies are born with heart defects each year -research is the key to saving babies’ lives.
  • Getting life-saving information to those who need it most - information that can save a life, like how to eat better, how to recognize the warning signs of heart attack, and how to talk to a doctor about critical health choices.

Get Started With Us Today and help reach EMU’s goal and provide resources for research and education. Together we can make a difference!

For more information visit or contact Christine at