For the past two years, the money raised at the Stride for Health Sunset Walk has gone to purchasing equipment for the Cardiac and Endovascular Center, but this year and next year the money will be going toward teaching CPR training and choke-saving techniques to high school students in Melrose, Malden, Stoneham, Wakefield and Medford.

“It’s great. The students get a kit with a mannequin and a video, and we teach them how to do CPR. Then they take the kit home with them and teach three family members,” said Sherry Nadworny, Hallmark Health’s director of special events. “Heart attack is still the number one cause of death and some people don’t realize that. If we continue to teach high school students and they teach three family members, it is our hope that we will eventually have the best survival rate in the state and maybe the country.”         

In the past two years, the Stride for Health Sunset Walk has raised more than $200,000 for the Cardiac and Endovascular Center, and the CPR program has already started at two schools in the community. Two hundred 10th-graders at Melrose High School and 400 12th-graders at Malden High School have already been given their kits and instructed in CPR. Elaine Gale, system director, Cardiac and Endovascular Services for Hallmark Health, expects to be in Wakefield and Medford in the fall of this year and Stoneham in the spring of 2011.

“We will also be working with teachers and coaches and they will be getting full CPR certifications,” said Elaine Gale. “We are going to pay for their books and their instructors and then pick a couple of days to train teachers and coaches. We really believe in that.”

Before the walk began, Michael V. Sack, president and chief executive officer of Hallmark Health System gave an opening speech thanking everyone for coming out to support Hallmark Health and the CPR education of students in the community.

Around the lake, several check points were set up with volunteers handing out water, and there were also encouraging messages posted throughout the walk. Unfortunately, halfway around the lake, the dark grey clouds rolled in again and the rain began to pour, soaking all the walkers. But, despite the heavy rain and wet clothes, the walkers continued to the finish.

“I think people in our communities have really embraced the walk and come out and support Hallmark Health because they themselves have experienced the care or a family member or a friend has, and they really feel strongly and want to support the system,” said Jesse Kawa, communications specialist for public and media relations for Hallmark Health.

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