Heart Fund to open World Heart Day gates to all

Cayman Heart Fund hosts ‘Healthy Heart Choices for Everyone, Everywhere’ event

The Cayman Heart Fund has canceled ticket sales to its upcoming celebration of World Heart Day, throwing open to everyone, gratis, the gates to the event Saturday at Camana Bay. 

With a dozen booths, each priced at $1,200; an $8,200 donation from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman; and a handful of big-hearted sponsors, the Heart Fund, according to project coordinator Caroline Rodrigues, “decided not to charge people for the event. It’s free now.” Ms. Rodrigues said the first 300 guests through those gates will still receive a $10 coupon for the Craft Food & Beverage Company. 

Tickets had been priced at $25 for adults, $10 for children, for the event, the first Cayman Heart Fund Expo marking the World Heart Federation’s World Heart Day. 

The 200-member federation – a Genera-based nongovernment organization – created World Heart Day in 2000, marking it annually in late September, to inform nearly 2 billion people in more than 120 countries that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of premature death, claiming 17.1 million lives each year. 

According to the federation, between 80 percent and 85 percent of those deaths could be prevented if the main risk factors – smoking, diet and physical inactivity – were controlled. 

According to its website, the World Heart Federation is “dedicated to leading the global fight against cardiovascular disease – including heart disease and stroke – with a focus on low- and middle-income countries, via a united community.” 

The federation brings together heart foundations from more than 100 countries. Its members address cardiovascular health at the policy level, and promote the exchange of ideas in a number of areas, including best practices and advances in scientific knowledge. 

The Camana Bay event, titled “Healthy Heart Choices for Everyone, Everywhere,” is scheduled from 2-8 p.m. on the Crescent, and will feature a dozen booths from exhibitors such as the Heart Healthy Centre, Helix Health Care, Smiles Dental Clinic, the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association, Health City Cayman Islands and the Food Revolution Program. 

Purple Dragon Martial Arts will offer a karate demonstration, and interactive games, crafts, the James Geary Band, health screenings and good food will be offered throughout the day, accompanied by children’s events – a poster competition, cooking classes, bouncy castle, crafts and face painting – and prizes, dance, fitness classes, a photo booth and a dedicated effort to inform people about maintaining heart health. 

Ms. Rodrigues said the Food Revolution Program, for example, will offer cooking classes for children, “teaching them to prepare their own healthy snacks, showing them that it can be fun, sociable and delicious.” 

She said, “Statistics show that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the Cayman Islands, pointing to problems with diet and exercise, “so we are trying to reduce that and trying to raise awareness.” 

Among the exhibitors, the Harmonic Health Group’s Heart Health Centre will feature its new full-time cardiologist, Robert Piotrowski, affiliated with the group’s St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute partner in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Dr. Piotrowski, who started full time at the center in July, will address the Ministry of Health’s sixth annual healthcare conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman next month, speaking on “Your Heart Health is in Jeopardy: What is Your Wager?” 

“We will have a two-fold booth,” said Lauren Robinson, in charge of marketing and communications for the Harmonic Group. “We have tried to align ourselves with the World Heart Federation. We’ll have a photo booth for kids, with a lot of props, and they can post the pictures to social media. 

“Dr. Piotrowski will be there with a nurse to explain prevention of cardiovascular diseases and talk about how it relates specifically to Cayman and what people can do.” 

Ms. Rodrigues said the doctor would also demonstrate the Health Centre’s new “Walk the Walk,” a modest-sized device which “counts the steps you take during the day and tracks how active you are.” 

Elsewhere at the expo, she said, the Diabetes Association will offer free screening and a discussion of personal healthcare, and Smiles Dental Clinic will demonstrate the connection between oral health and heart health. 

New ambulance  

Among the immediate goals of the Heart Fund health fair is to boost fundraising for a new ambulance at the Cayman Islands Hospital, replacing one of the institution’s decade-old emergency vehicles. 

Efforts started on May 18 with a Discovery Day 5K run that raised $16,000 toward the $150,000 cost of a new U.S.-built ambulance. 

Already, said Ms. Rodrigues, corporate sponsors for World Health Day have boosted Heart Fund coffers by $25,000 – with earnings from Saturday’s event still to come. 

Still, she said, the fund anticipates seeking as much as another $108,000 during the next year before gaining the full amount. 

“We have our Red Dress Gala in February 2016,” she said, “and a couple of other events along the way as well. We hope to buy the ambulance by this time next year – at least that’s what I am thinking.” 

Cayman Heart Fund volunteers Michael Wingrave, Katalin Radvanyi and Jamie Nelson, with project coordinator Caroline Rodrigues and Cayman Heart Fund chairman David Dinner
Cayman Heart Fund volunteers Michael Wingrave, Katalin Radvanyi and Jamie Nelson, with project coordinator Caroline Rodrigues and Cayman Heart Fund chairman David Dinner get in the spirit of World Heart Day.