Thousands Walk for Heart Disease and Stroke

Get moving, eat healthy, and quit smoking – those were the three main messages thousands of participants heard at Saturday’s 2010 Miami-Dade Start! Heart Walk on the Florida International University campus in West Miami-Dade. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine was well represented, with more than 200 walkers raising close to $20,000 to fund the organization’s goal of “building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

For Clayton Santos, a vascular ultrasound intern at University of Miami Hospital, participation was a way to “show support for my dad who has a pacemaker while also supporting the field in which I hope to one day make my career.”

Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., this year’s Champion of Community Health, took the stage before the 3.1-mile walk to deliver his important message as a cardiologist. “We need to unify our efforts to eradicate heart disease, so get up in the morning, watch what you eat, find time to exercise, and you will go a long way to staying healthy.”

Dean Goldschmidt then introduced the national president of the American Heart Association, the Miller School’s own Ralph Sacco, M.D., professor and chair of neurology. “You may think LeBron James of the Miami Heat is the number one star in Miami,” Dr. Goldschmidt said, “but the University of Miami has its own number one star, and it’s Ralph Sacco, the first neurologist to serve as national president and the best stroke fighter in the United States.”

To a thunderous ovation, Dr. Sacco commended the crowd for making a simple choice by taking part in the Heart Walk and encouraged everyone to do more. “It’s all about reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease, and you can do that by exercising and eating healthy — both go a long way in keeping our heart and our brain healthy.”

University of Miami Hospital CEO Anthony Degina was also recognized as chairman of the 2011 Heart Ball, to be held on February 12 in Miami.

Before the start of the walk, participants had a chance to check out a tent city that included healthy giveaways, medical screenings and free food. FIU and Baptist Health representatives also addressed the crowd as co-sponsors of the event.

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