LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 21, 2011 – More than 1,100 Cast Members from Walt Disney World Resort awoke before sunrise on a recent Saturday for the Orlando Start! Heart Walk. They laced up their walking shoes to show support for the American Heart Association and help raise nearly $49,000 for research and education to help fight heart disease and stroke.
“My goal is to get healthier and complete a marathon this year,” said Kendall Bercaw, a resort operations assistant at Walt Disney World Resort. She joined 16,000 others who took to the streets of downtown Orlando as a way to jump start her own healthy objectives.
“The Greater Orlando Heart Walk was my opportunity to take the first step, get fit alongside some of my closest friends and raise money for an important health concern not only in Central Florida, but the entire country,” Bercaw said.
At Walt Disney World Resort, some Cast Members prepared for the Orlando Start! Heart Walk by joining a weekly Cast walking club, while others burned calories at the company’s on-site fitness centers.
As a co-chair of this year’s event, Meg Crofton, President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations – U.S. and France, helped kick off the festivities and told the crowd she understood from her own experience that entire families are affected by heart disease and walking is a great way to be healthy.
“As a teenager, I had the privilege of helping my father walk back to full health after a massive heart attack,” Crofton said. “Thank you, everyone. You are stepping out for your own heart health, and you are stepping out for the research, the education and the technologies that are improving the heart health of our Central Florida community.”
According to the American Heart Association, as little as 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week can lower the overall risk of heart disease by 14 percent.
As a thank-you for participating in this annual event, Disney VoluntEARS received a Duffy Bear plush, which smiled from the arms of walkers and peeked out of backpacks throughout the three-mile trek.