The Mount Union community celebrated the conclusion of its first-ever Heart Walk Challenge which, in two-weeks’ time, saw walkers log over 700 miles and raise over $1,400 for Mount Union-based organizations.

Organizers hosted an awards ceremony Monday evening at Solid Rock Wellness Center, which co-sponsored the event with Meadowview Physical Therapy.

The Heart Walk Challenge kick-off Oct. 1 when teams began logging laps on the borough’s new Bricktown Unity Trail, a 1.65-mile loop that makes use of existing sidewalks. The Unity Trail was developed through the state Department of Health’s WalkWorks program with assistance from the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission.

Cheryl Mohney Marino, representing the Mount Union Community Partnership which also helped develop the Unity Trail, said the 15 teams who entered the inaugural Heart Walk completed 433 laps or 714 miles.

Further, Marino said participants completed 22 laps on an alternative 1.01 loop, bringing the event’s total milage up to 736 — more than twice the distance between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

“Success is so much better when we do it as a community and as a team,” Marino said, noting Heart Walk teams raised $1,420 for three local organizations: the Mount Union Ministerium, Mount Union Community Library and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Mount Union Conference.

“They’re all making a different in the greater Mount Union area,” Marino said.

She continued that the event’s success is a credit to the sponsors, the charities who inspired the event and each and every walker who log miles on the Unity Trail.

“Everyone did a fabulous job coming together,” she said. “Everyone is a winner.”

Two teams, representing two age categories, were recognized for their cumulative laps on the trail.

The First (UMC) Church team, composed of Bill and Julie Mostoller, Herbert and Pamela Roberts and Sandra Moore, crunched the most laps for the 60-plus crowd. Team H20, composed of Timothy Crouse, Phil and Rossella Stewart and Boyd Runk, logged the most laps among the field of under-60 teams.

The team names will be etched onto a trophy which will be displayed in the Mount Union Borough Office.

The event’s Big Heart Award, which honors the team which raised the most funds, went to the First Church Team which raised $600 for charity. Each team members was given a glittering heart-shaped memento, courtesy Sue Zinobile, Mount Union Borough Manager.

Heart Walk organizers paid special tribute to IFC which fielded a total of six teams and rallied 64 individual walkers.

Boyd Runk, the senior member of Team H20, also collected special honors. At age 86, Runk put in 28 laps on the Unity Trail during week-two of the challenge. For setting such an enviable pace, Runk was awarded a one-month free membership to the Solid Rock Wellness Center.

Adam Shawver, proprietor of Solid Rock Wellness Center, pointed out the event’s total miles, laid end to end, would stretch somewhere into the heart of Missouri.

Shawver said the Heart Walk set out to accomplish three goals — to improve health and community and support local causes. All three challenges were met, he said.

“It was a tool to make us think more about our health,” he said, adding it also get walkers a chance to socialize with friends as they exercises.

“We were out walking and talking,” he said.

As for the charitable element, each walker paid $10 to join the challenge and at the time of registration, determined to which of the three charities his or her $10 fee would benefit.

During Monday’s celebration, Marino disbursed the funds to the organizations. Shawver, who is also pastor of the Walnut Grove Church of God, accepted on behalf of the Ministerium. Helen Westbrook accepted donations on behalf of the library and Mary Lou Peduzzi accepted donations earmarked for St. Vincent de Paul.

Marino thanked Shawver and Solid Rock as well as Nicole Hobbs and Stan Westbrook of Meadowview Physical Therapy for sponsoring the Heart Walk. She also thanked the Department of Health and Southern Alleghenies for their respective roles in bringing the Unity Trail to Mount Union.

“We are hoping to make this an annual gig,” Marino said and asked walkers to stay tuned for the next Heart Walk and other possible Unity Trail events.

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