JACKSONVILLE, Fla., September 20, 2023 —The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, brought together over 20,000 people for the 2023 First Coast Heart Walk dedicated to raising lifesaving funds and bolstering community partnerships. The event theme was, “I Walk to Save Lives,” and underscored the importance of living a physically active, tobacco-free and healthy lifestyle. In partnership with generous donors and local company sponsors, the First Coast market raised over $1M in their fight against the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke.

By joining and donating to the First Coast Heart Walk, participants support the lifesaving mission of the Association and safeguard that fewer people die from heart disease and stroke. The funds raised go towards research, advocacy, CPR training and to promote better health in support of the Association’s 2024 Health Equity Impact Goal, reducing barriers to health care access and quality.

“The Heart Walk is such a special day for the First Coast and broader American Heart Association community. I’m humbled by the thousands of people who dedicated their Saturday morning to supporting our lifesaving mission,” said Executive Director Caitlin Brunell. “One of my favorite things about the Heart Walk is that it truly is an event for everyone. We strive to encourage people from all backgrounds to live a heart healthy lifestyle and I’m proud to say we design our Heart Walks to ensure the event mimics that same level of inclusivity.

The day featured activations centered on mindfulness, CPR demonstrations, and tents dedicated to overall community engagement. Walkers were also greeted at the finish line with a survivor bell provided by Miller Electric Company – serving as a poignant reminder of the reason we walk.

Additional highlights included an energizing warm-up hosted by 210 FitBody Bootcamp, appearances by fan favorites Jaxson de Ville and the ROAR and Melanie Lawson and Matt Ray of WJXT and Easy 102.9, respectively, reprised their roles as emcees.

2023 Heart Walk Chair Russ Thomas, CEO of Availity, unveiled the first place First Coast Community Team, Team LouLou’s Warriors, and offered uplifting remarks to the crowd prior to ushering them to the start line. 

The Heart Walk inspires longer and healthier lives with over 85 First Coast companies showing their support this year to ensure critical mission advancements continue. The top four fundraising companies across the First Coast were – in descending order -Johnson & Johnson Vision Inc., Baptist Health, Availity, and Mayo Clinic Jacksonville.

The event was also made possible with the support of our local 2023 Heart Walk Sponsors, including:

  • Getting to the Heart of Stroke sponsor HCA Healthcare Foundation
  • Life is Why sponsors Baptist Health and Florida Blue
  • Signature sponsors Availity, Brooks Rehabilitation, Encompass Health Rehabilitation, Fickling Construction, Inc., GuideWell Source, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, UF Health Jacksonville and Winn Dixie
  • Local sponsors Auld & White Constructors, ASM Global, Crowley, BKS Partners, Dun & Bradstreet, Fidelity National Financial, Florida State College at Jacksonville, HCA Florida Healthcare, Jackson Electric Supply Company, JM Family Enterprises Inc., Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., Miller Electric Company, Rayonier, Superior Construction, The Suddath Companies, University of North Florida and Walgreens
  • Media sponsors WJXT, Easy 102.9 and Norsan Media

The First Coast Heart Walk is the signature event of the Association’s Heart Challenge program which is designed to help companies positively impact employee overall health and wellbeing. The program is anchored in a series of customizable workplace events that inspire employees to be more engaged, reconnect with colleagues, get in their physical activity, support a great cause, and have a lot of fun doing it.

“I look forward to seeing new and returning participants in October 2024 as we come together to celebrate the American Heart Association’s centennial and the strides made towards our impact goal, said Caitlin.”

Visit www2.heart.org to learn more. 


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries:

Olivia Bruce | olivia.bruce@heart.org

heart.org and stroke.org