Moorpark College Raiders stride to the finish line at AHA’s Heart Walk


Moorpark College’s team waits to participate in the 2-mile walk at the annual American Heart Association’s Heart Walk Fundraiser in Thousand Oaks, CA on Oct. 8, 2022. Photo credit: Sulor Garretson

By Sulor Garretson

Earlier this month, Moorpark College participated in the American Heart Association’s 2022 Ventura County Heart Walk Fundraiser.

The annual event took place Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Memorial Field at California Lutheran University. The fundraiser started at 7:30 a.m. and the walk began at 8:30 a.m.

When participants first arrived, they met with their teams to sign in and collect their team’s t-shirt. These shirts were used to differentiate the groups. The Moorpark College Raiders team wore a light blue ‘I Heart MC’ t-shirt to represent the school.

After greeting and signing in with their group, individuals were welcomed with a variety of booths. Some of the booths included were presented by UCLA Health, Metro Link, Bank of America, Dignity Health, AMGEN and Anthem. There was also a drum circle presented by Drumtime, a hands-only CPR demonstration, a photo booth and a snack station for attendees to enjoy.

Ventura County resident Susie Harrison explained the reason she donated and participated in this year’s Heart Walk.

“My daughter had open heart surgery at two-years-old due to a birth defect and it saved her life,” Harrison said. “I wanted to give back to the cause.”

Prior to the walk, Zumba instructors warmed up the crowd by having attendees dance to a musical track. After the warm-up, teams were called to the starting line to commence the walk. The Moorpark College Raiders team led the two-mile walk and followed the pre-sketched path around California Lutheran University.

During the Heart Walk, AHA volunteers showed their support by cheering the participants on. Once the walkers passed the finish line, they were rewarded with live music at the Memorial Field. The walk came to an end at 10:30 a.m.

Mara Rodriguez is Moorpark College’s zoo development coordinator and the Ventura County Community College District’s 2022 classified employee of the year. Rodriguez was the Raiders’ team captain at this year’s Heart Walk.

This cause is very important to many in the Moorpark College family, including President Sokenu, so we had to do something,” Rodriguez said. “It’s amazing what we can do when we all come together to help a cause.”

The Moorpark College Raiders had 31 walkers in attendance and had surpassed their team donation goal days before the event.

Kate Beck, business and development director for Heart Walk American Heart Association, commented on the reason why AHA holds the event.

“Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of more than 870,000 men, women and children every year,” Beck said. “The fundraiser is held annually to bring the community together to raise awareness and funds to save lives and ultimately end heart disease and stroke.”

The donation goal for the event was set at $150,000, of which $142,000 was raised. The Moorpark College Raiders team contributed over $6,300 of the set-goal.

All the donations raised from the Heart Walk events fund innovative scientific research to improve survival and discover cures. The AHA has expended more than $5 billion in research, which has resulted in life-saving breakthroughs including CPR, the artificial heart valve, cholesterol lowering drugs, stents and microsurgery.

For more information about the Heart Walk Fundraiser and how to donate or register for an upcoming walk, click here.