Mount Olive Heart Walk-ers raise $21,000 to battle disease
By John Joyce
Published in News on October 6, 2013 1:50 AM
Participants in the Mount Olive Heart Walk make their way along North Church Street Saturday. The walk raised nearly $21,000 for heart disease research and care.
MOUNT OLIVE -- No matter how much money the 42nd Annual Mount Olive Heart Walk raised for heart disease research Saturday -- more than $21,000 according to early returns -- it will rank among the more memorable for one of its most dedicated organizers.
Peggy VanVoltenburg is stepping down after 18 years as co-chairman of the Heart Walk committee.
"I have mixed emotions knowing this is my last (heart walk)," she said.
Ms. VanVoltenburg has been employed at the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. for more than 40 years and a resident of the community for many years as well. She said she has been touched by the response of the town to her calls over the years for support for the Heart Walk.
"Mount Olive has a great bunch of folks here. We're a small town, but they come through in a big way whenever they are needed," she said.
Peggy Hester, who founded the Mount Olive Heart Walk with her mother, Polly Walters in 1979, also was on hand.
Prior to the walk, both Peggys were congratulated for their efforts by the American Heart Association.
Heart Association representative Marian Barnhill told the assembled crowd that the two women have raised more then $100,000 for the charity during their volunteer years.
Ms. Barnhill said the walk Ms. Hester and her mother started 42 years ago was the first of its kind, well before the American Heart Association began sponsoring such walks all across the country.
Later, she spoke about the town of Mount Olive's enduring commitment to the cause.
"It was a wonderful turnout. These volunteers are the most dedicated. It grows every year," she said.
L.J., "The Dancing D.J.," Manley kicked things off with a few line dances before the walk. And he helped cool things down with a few more dances as the walkers returned.
Fruit and snacks contributed by Piggly Wiggly helped the sun-soaked supporters replenish.
Many of the walkers wore T-shirts with names written on the back supporting loved ones who have battled heart disease or stroke. Others bore the names and logos of the companies that sponsored teams for the event -- 13 in all.
The Mount Olive Police Department provided an escort detail to ensure the safety of the walkers, most of whom made pretty good time despite the heat.
Pink-and-red faced babies stayed shaded in strollers or rode on parents' shoulders, and plenty of water was handed out to the walkers.
Additional money was raised through raffles awarding a Mt. Olive Pickle Co. gift basket valued at $135, and a Tupperware basket.
In all, nearly 100 walkers made the trek to raise awareness, and money for heart disease diagnosis and research Saturday. Fundraising will continue through December, after which Mrs. VanVoltenburg will decide her next move.
"I'll have some decisions to make by the end of the year," she said.