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 Warming the Heart

heart walk students

Students from UMD's Community Health class participated in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk on September 26, 2009. Photo: Ladona Tornabene.


Community Health Students Redefine Possible

The Challenge
What was the American Heart Association's Heart Walk challenge? Gather eighteen students; give them two weeks, and ask them to raise $4,501. This challenge was presented to students in UMD’s Community Health class by Ladona Tornabene, who teaches health education courses in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

The class voted to break the previous course record of $4,500. As student Autumn Marquette stated, "I didn't know if our goal would be reached since we had the smallest Community Health class and the shortest time, but Dr. Tornabene really pushed us to get out there and fundraise."

UMD has a connection to the American Heart Association. Tornabene's Community Health class has participated in the Heart Walk event since the year 2000. The American Heart Association has also many research projects at UMD, including a current study being done by Dr. Les Drewes for stroke.

Tornabene says that she is proud of her students. The mission of the American Heart Association is to "build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke" and they offer programs such as CPR training and blood pressure screenings. According to Ron Ozan, corporate events director for the American Heart Association, “The University of Minnesota Duluth plays a significant role in supporting the American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk to raise research dollars to reduce the number one killer in America which is cardiovascular disease."

In order to raise such a large sum of money in a short amount of time, students turned to their own sources for motivation. Some fundraised in honor of loved ones who have been affected by heart-related problems, some were motivated by guest speakers in class, and others just rallied together for a good cause. According to junior Sonny Schiefelbein, "Fundraising was a great experience. It allowed me to help raise money and support a wonderful cause! I generally do not care to fundraise, but the enthusiasm of my fellow classmates, professor, and others around me made me very eager to help and see what I could do to partake in the event. The fundraiser was not only a good experience outside the classroom but inside it as well. It enabled my classmates and myself to really open up and interact with one another, creating a more comforting and friendly learning environment."

Each student set his or her own personal goal and raised money by asking family and friends for donations. Since the class had only two weeks, it was difficult to set up any large-scale fundraising events, but students managed to organize two events: a dunk tank a UMD home football game and a bake sale, thanks to a donation by Bixby’s Café.

Surpassing the Goal
The challenge was met and the 2009 Community Health team raised over $5,000, surpassing their goal. Community Health student Sara Jandt said, “The support we had from UMD students, faculty, and staff was phenomenal. I don't think many of us could have met our personal goals without the generosity of the people on this campus.”

Ron Ozan and Marge Erickson, from the American Heart Association, joined the students. “I have been involved in the Heart Walk since the first walk,” said Erickson. “From 2003-2007, I was the team coordinator for UMD. Working with the Community Health class has been a highlight. It is amazing to me that the goal of this class continues to increase each year, and the class continues to reach it.”

The dedication of the students has not gone unnoticed. “Their efforts are truly exceptional in terms of goal-setting and teamwork in achieving their fund raising target,” remarked Mark Nierengarten, Head of UMD’s Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department. Georgia Keeney, health education faculty member, said, "All funds raised will be put to use fighting America's number one killer — cardiovascular disease. Congratulations to the students for setting a big goal and achieving it!"

These students faced the odds and won the challenge. Paul Deputy, Dean of the College of Education and Human Service Professions, summed up the effort of this class by saying, "The energy and enthusiasm I see in Dr. Tornabene is matched only by her students. They have taken action on the noble cause of helping humanity. They are learning that this kind of courage does make a difference and they will go on to contribute for their entire careers. It does more than help the heart, it warms the heart to see it."



Submitted by Hannah Schoof.


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