Participants in the Bert Blain Memorial Heart Walk in 2018.


The American Heart Association’s major Rock County fundraiser has already raised more than half of its goal, and the event doesn’t take place until September.

The association hopes to bounce back from the pandemic year, when it held the annual Bert Blain Memorial Heart Walk virtually and raised $82,000 of the $90,000 goal.

This year’s goal is $110,000, said Chris Ramos, the association’s development director for Rock and Winnebago counties. Ramos said he hears enthusiasm as he asks local employers to sponsor teams.

“I think, honestly, it’s because people are ready to do something,” he said. “Companies I talked to are all looking for things to do with employees because company morale and business loyalty have become important for a lot of companies. They have said they want to get employees involved with the community again and businesses involved in the community again.”

A kickoff celebration will be held virtually Thursday, but the walk itself will be held in person, Ramos said.

The walk is set for Sunday, Sept. 19, time to be determined, at the Town Square Pavilion, 65 S. River St., Janesville, with 1-mile and 3-mile options.

Money raised helps train local residents in CPR and pays for an anti-tobacco and vaping campaign and other health education programs to help heart patients in conjunction with local hospitals—all with the goal of a heart-healthy community, Ramos said.

In the past five years, the American Heart Association has funded 41 new studies at UW-Madison at a cost of $5 million, Ramos said. However, more than 3,000 research proposals could not be funded, which means many had to be shelved and that knowledge deferred.


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