The Fitness for Life Unit is proud to report that our Department has raised over $7,000 for the sixth annual American Heart Association Heart Walk! Over 200 LACoFD members participated in this year's walk held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on September 29 to show their support for the fight against heart disease and stroke. Among them was stroke survivor Senior Typist Clerk Estela Casas, who recently shared her story of recovery in Size-Up. Though unable to complete the entire 5k route, Casas felt it was important to attend this event that raises funds for such an important cause. "I just feel thankful that I'm alive and that I have the opportunity to show people that there's hope and not to give up," says Casas. "I gave up in the beginning, but I kept going and now, here I am."
This year's event was particularly inspirational for Fitness for Life Coordinator Fire Captain Al Yanagisawa. While running through the course of the Walk to alert people of the approaching Recruit Class 136 who were running in cadence among the crowd, he noticed one particular woman who remained in the path of our recruits. Upon speaking with her, he found out that she was a heart transplant survivor named Jennifer Pike of Santa Monica. Pike had been suffering from heart troubles prior to her transplant in March of this year, and decided to celebrate both her recovery and 5oth birthday by participating in the Heart Walk. When she saw our recruits, she remembered the outstanding support and assistance she received from our firefighters when they were called to her home prior to her transplant, and wanted to show her gratitude by running along with our members. "I was so excited on the Walk when I saw them running, they gave me so much inspiration," said Pike. "They were always so sweet and so sensitive and so supportive during that time. It's fun to run with them because I feel like they've been a part of my team for a number of years now." Yanagisawa sees Pike as the walking proof of the American Heart Association's work. "It was inspiring to see her run with us and it's a good feeling to know we support this cause," he said.
Our Department's biggest supporters of these events were our Emergency Medical Services Section and Information Management Division teams, headed respectively by Administrative Assistant II Lucinda Ruiz and Acting Information Technology Manager Gregory Wong. Both teams raised over $1,000 each for this worthy cause. Special recognition also goes out to our Health Hazardous Materials Team, Recruit Class 36 and Local 1014 for their participation and assistance with this event. Deputy Chief Angel Montoya summed up the spirit of the event by saying, "It's very important that we're here to support this cause not only for us but the residents we serve. It's something that affects firefighters and our families, and it's important for us to participate in these events to raise awareness for ourselves and our communities."