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Monday, March 20, 2023

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American Heart Association: Live Fierce video

Hundreds Slated to Participate in SDSU's Heart and Stroke Walk

Students, faculty and staff across campus are preparing, and raising money, for the Sept. 18 event.
By SDSU News Team

While on his last military deployment in Afghanistan in 2011 and only months before he would retire from the U.S. Marine Corps, Todd Kennedy received news that his mother had had a heart attack. 

While his mother, Inez Kennedy, recovered back home in the United States, Kennedy recalls the difficulty in not being able to support her through her illness, and wanting more to happen in support of those who experienced such painful circumstances. “She had a good recovery, but it was rough not being physically able to support her during that time,” said Kennedy, director of San Diego State University’s Military and Veterans Program.

When he heard SDSU was participating in San Diego American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2021 Heart and Stroke Walk, he quickly decided to volunteer as a coach and convene a team. Called Team MVP, the group is among more than two dozen already organized to raise funds in support of heart disease and stroke prevention and to take part in the Sept. 18 event. 

“Organizations like the American Heart Association are instrumental in providing help for those in very unique situations,” Kennedy said.  

A committee led by Steven Hooker, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, is leading the charge to convene and help train SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley volunteers to participate in next month’s event. Hundreds of SDSU students, faculty and staff are expected to raise funds and participate, and can still register on the American Heart Association registration page

“Since May, we have been identifying individuals on our campus who pledge to serve as champions for health and health equity, and I am personally appreciative of the many people who have volunteered to serve in support,” Hooker said. 

Director of Aztec Recreation Mark Zakrzewski convened Team Rec, which, like other teams, has already raised funds toward the more than $7,700 the university community has raised through Aug. 23. 

“Heart disease and stroke impact so many lives each year,” Zakrzewski said. “It’s important to bring awareness and raise funds to support efforts to find treatments and cures.” 

Zakrzewski said he is committed to the effort for personal reasons after his father-in-law suffered a stroke last year. “It was really tough seeing the impact the event had on him and our family,” he said. “My participation in this walk is dedicated to him.” 

Amanda Lee of the School of Social Work also convened a team. 

“As a social work educator, it’s important to lead by example,” said Lee, the school’s field education director and Integrated Behavioral Health Program coordinator. “The joy and meaning in giving my time and energy to a cause that benefits the community is something I want to model for our students.” 

The event connects Lee’s love of walking with her desire to be connected to an effort that helps improve lives. 
“It's been such a difficult time for all,” Lee said. “Having something to get excited about and look forward to as a team is important for morale.”