05/11/14 — New leaders to take on Heart Walk

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New leaders to take on Heart Walk

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 11, 2014 1:50 AM


MOUNT OLIVE -- Stan Ricker knows the dangers of heart disease. The new Mount Olive Heart Walk co-chairman has had two heart attacks in the past, and his brother died from a heart attack last year.

Today, he joins Rhonda Myers as one of the two leaders taking over the popular event in Mount Olive, where teams raise close to $30,000 each year for heart disease research through the American Heart Association.

"I think this is a great thing. God gives us physicians to heal our hearts," he said.

Ricker originally took part in the Heart Walk as part of the Mount Olive First Pentecostal Holiness Church team, but when minister Jeff Dail asked him to step up as co-chair after he himself was asked, Ricker decided to take the larger role.

As for Mrs. Myers, she adds the co-chair position after decades on the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. team, which usually comes in as the top fundraising team each year. The pickle team had already raised $2,000 for the Heart Walk before the kick-off luncheon held Thursday.

Mrs. Myers said that she joined after being encouraged by past chairwoman Peggy VanVoltenburg.

"I said I'll try it one year," Mrs. Myers said. "I'm not ready to see it die. I want it to be successful."

Peggy Hester, the woman who founded the Mount Olive Heart Walk in 1971 with her mother, will also be co-chairing the event.

Over the past five years, the Mount Olive Heart Walk has raised more than $190,000 through its fundraising efforts. The small town typically brings in more money than Greenville.

"This group hands down is the most dedicated group I've worked with," said Marian Barnhill, representative with the American Heart Association.

Last year, the Mount Olive Heart Walk and its 13 teams raised $28,231 from May to October through the many bake sales, spaghetti dinners and raffles held throughout the year by different teams.

This year, Mrs. Barnhill set the goal at $28,000.

"You've done it in the past and I know you can do it again this year," she said.

She encouraged team captains to try new things that emphasized the message of the American Heart Association, such as smoothie sales, which tend to be healthier than morning doughnut sales.

Ricker and Mrs. Myers are hoping that this year's walk will draw in more teams than usual. Ricker has asked a few more organizations to participate this year to make the goal. Many of the same mainstays -- Mt. Olive Pickle Co., Southern Bank, Butterball -- are also returning this year.

As for Peggy VanVoltenburg, she will still be open to any questions that her replacements will have, but she plans on taking her retirement very seriously by spending her time relaxing, hopefully on a beach in the Bahamas.

"My replacements are well-qualified, but I'll be available. I'll always have the Heart Walk close to my heart," she said.

The Mount Olive Heart Walk event is still looking for any interested teams. For more information, individuals can contact Rhonda Myers at 919-581-3638.

The Mount Olive Heart Walk event is set for Oct. 18.