Wilson Heart Walkers brave the pouring rain

Organizers thrilled with turnout

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Dark clouds swirled overhead, and eventually the rain poured down, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending the 2019 Wilson Heart Walk Saturday morning at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.

“Obviously, the weather is not ideal, but I’m blown away by the people who turned out today, honestly,” said Erin Fox, director of development for the eastern North Carolina America Heart Association. “I’m amazed at the number of people who are here and the support they are showing for the organization and our mission.”

In addition to the walk, participants visited numerous vendors, had pictures taken in a photo booth and enjoyed a dog fashion show. Children could have their faces painted, and inflatables for jumping and shooting basketballs were available.

More than 300 people registered to raise money in the months leading up to the Wilson Heart Walk on Saturday, which was a celebration of those fundraising efforts. All money raised goes for heart disease and stroke research, education and advocacy.

“We have research dollars at East Carolina University, Campbell University, Duke, and UNC-Chapel Hill,” Fox said. “More money actually comes back to North Carolina than we raise in North Carolina because we have such outstanding research institutions.”

Fox noted that a sponsorship by Hubert Vester Auto Group went toward a new CPR training program at a Wilson high school.

“Hubert Vester’s donation provided a CPR education kit that will train over 1,800 students at Fike High School in CPR over the next four years,” Fox said.

Karen Robinson drove seven hours from her home near Asheville to be a part of the Heart Walk experience. She has been a Heart Association volunteer since 1980, but Asheville does not currently sponsor a Heart Walk.

“I thought this event was absolutely phenomenal,” Robinson said. “Everyone did such a wonderful job, and it’s so impressive to see people come together and do this. And I just love the whirligigs. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is so fun, and I’m so glad I came.”

A 2020 Wilson Heart Walk date has not been set but Fox is sure that it will be held sometime in April.