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May events promote healthy lifestyles

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GREENFIELD — With the temperature’s recent plunge and record snowfall, an outdoor heart health competition and a 5K run to benefit the Pennsy Trail are probably not the first things that jump to the front of people’s minds, but organizers for the events are getting ready despite January’s bite.

The American Heart Association and a coalition of Greenfield business and health groups are planning two separate events in May designed to get county residents acting on and thinking about healthy lifestyles.

On May 10, Greenfield has been tabbed by the Heart Association to join its annual HeartChase, a community-based competition that pits two- to five-member teams against each other in an event that is a cross between “The Amazing Race” and “Minute to Win It,” said Carmen Parker, HeartChase director.

“It’s an excellent event to bring folks together to have some fun, but also to learn about the American Heart Association and something to take back and make a lifestyle change,” Parker said.

Participating teams will navigate an approximately one-mile, 10-checkpoint course that will combine competitive activities as well as a bit of smartphone geocaching to locate hidden donation tag sponsors to accumulate points.

The event is in its third year nationally, Parker said. Last year, the Heart Association presented 140 events throughout the country, with three in Indiana.

HeartChase is designed for smaller communities outlying major urban areas where the organization promotes its annual Heart Walk to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, Parker said.

There is no entry fee for the community, corporate and civic teams that wish to enter, but the Heart Association is seeking sponsorship at various levels from local civic groups and businesses.

All proceeds from the competition will remain in central Indiana to fund the organization’s various programs, such as CPR and first aid courses; awareness; and medical, educational and advocacy initiatives, said Tim Harms, the Heart Association’s communications director.

The following weekend, a consortium of local health and business groups will hold a 5K, one-mile walk/run along the Pennsy Trail in Greenfield in conjunction with a downtown health festival and farmers market.

Healthy Strides in Hancock County will start along the trail near American Legion Place, run east and then return downtown, said Joanie Fitzwater, Greenfield city planning director.

“We’ve already been working with the Hancock Wellness Center on walkability and creating a walkable, healthy community, and we’re partnering with (Hancock Regional) Hospital in their efforts to fight obesity, so this event serves two purposes,” Fitzwater said. “It will make downtown a happening place to be, and it will be an educational tool for the public to learn to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

The effort recently received a $3,827 grant from the Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation, and Tuesday, the Hancock County Tourism Commission awarded another $2,100 to the event.

In February, organizers will also raise healthy lifestyle awareness through a countywide school outreach.

Organizers are still fundraising to cover the cost of the run and the ancillary activities, and sponsorship opportunities are available for Healthy Strides as well.

Any proceeds from the event will be applied to purchasing fitness and recreational equipment for the Pennsy Trail, said Ellen Kuker, Greenfield Parks and Recreation director.

“We’ve looked at equipment,” Kuker said. “Some of it could double as art; some pieces don’t look like your typical outdoor workout equipment.”

If the event raises enough capital for the installation, the equipment will be easy to use and enticing to trail users to improve their health, Kuker said.


Staff writer Maribeth Vaughn contributed to this report.

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