Heart Walk Participants Encouraged to Bring Healthy Donations

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Participants in the 2019 Hilo Heart Walk are being encouraged to not only raise funds for the American Heart Association (AHA), but to also bring a healthy food donation to the event to benefit clients of the Hawai‘i Food Basket.

The healthy food drive is part of the AHA’s Kokua The Need campaign, reflecting its Board of Director’s commitment to improve healthy eating throughout Hawai‘i.

“By incorporating the healthy food drive into this year’s Heart Walk we are demonstrating just one of the ways that funds raised to benefit the AHA are being invested into improving our community’s health,” said Jackie De Luz Watanabe, president and secretary, Big Island Toyota and the 2019 Hilo Heart Walk co-chair.

The AHA’s Kokua The Need campaign was developed through an AHA collaborative effort with University of Hawai‘i nutrition students and the Hawaii Foodbank on Oahu. AHA volunteers then helped to coordinate a healthy food drive, using materials developed by the students and approved by the AHA’s national Science Department, in downtown Honolulu office buildings.


That initial food drive resulted in almost one ton of healthier food items being donated, and the feedback from Foodbank clients was very positive. Now the AHA is expanding the Kokua The Need campaign statewide to include it into its Heart Walk events.

“All of Hawai‘i’s foodbanks do a wonderful job providing food to those in need,” added Hilo Heart Walk Co-chair Darice Cullio, AVP, commercial banking manager, Central Pacific Bank. “However, sometimes the food being provided doesn’t also address the nutrition disparities that exist in our disparately-affected populations. By improving the nutritional quality of the donations made to our foodbanks we can not only help to feed those populations, but also help to improve their health. We’re excited to help support that effort at this year’s Heart Walk.”

The Hilo Heart Walk will take place on March 30, at Hilo Bayfront Park at 7:30 a.m. A health fair and entertainment will run from 7  to 10 a.m. Free “hands-only” CPR lessons, and a keiki fun fair will also be offered. The event is designed to bring families and friends together to learn, share and practice lifestyle habits that will lead to healthier, longer lives free of heart disease and stroke. Participants are encouraged to raise money to support the AHA’s work to end heart disease and stroke and improve Hawaii island resident’s health.


“March is national Nutrition Month,’” said Watanabe. “Eighty percent of heart disease and stroke is preventable, and nutrition is one of the factors that people can control to reduce their risk. What’s a more appropriate way to celebrate Nutrition Month than to educate our Heart Walk guests about heart-healthy eating and have them donate healthy food items to help those less fortunate to also practice healthier eating.”

Go online to register, or by call the Heart Walk coordinator at (808) 377-6646 for information.

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