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Neil's Walk promotes heart health, exercise

July 5th, 2014 12:00 pm by Staff Report

Neil's Walk promotes heart health, exercise

Amid the hustle and bustle of numerous Fun Fest activities comes a special opportunity for folks to enthusiastically support the region's heart health.

Neil's Walk, a nine-year tradition, returns Saturday, July 12, at 8:58 p.m. Hundreds of walkers, participating as individuals and teams, will wind through the streets of Kingsport, including one that will be candlelit near J. Fred Johnson Stadium. This noncompetitive event gives community members a chance to encourage each other to take care of their heart.

Originally known as the Cardiovascular Associates 3K Heart Walk, the event changed its name in memory of Neil Danehy, a beloved community leader who died unexpectedly from a heart attack just two weeks after his 50th birthday in 2005.

"Neil was always very active and athletic," said Danehy's wife, Myra, president of the Neil Danehy Foundation. "As my daughters, Leslie Webb and Rebecca Danehy, and I walk in memory of Neil, we encourage others to walk in honor of someone they know who has been affected by a heart condition."

The Wellmont CVA Heart Institute and Eastman Credit Union sponsor Neil's Walk, which raises money for the foundation.

"Wellmont has been with us since day one," Mrs. Danehy said. "We are so appreciative of their faithful support over the past nine years."

Fulfilling its motto to "Save a Heart," the foundation provides vital cardiovascular education and tools, such as automated external defibrillators, heart monitors and CPR training, throughout the Tri-Cities.

Organizations that have received AED donations include the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, Providence Medical Center, Dobyns-Bennett High School, the Lynn Garden Senior Center and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport.

"We concentrate on providing AEDS to local venues that attract large groups of people," said Mrs. Danehy. "We are dedicated to promoting the safety of the community and welcome recommendations for AED donations."

People can suggest locations by using the contact form on

Through the foundation's "Save a Heart Saturday" event, more than 300 area residents have received free CPR training by the American Red Cross. In addition, Mrs. Danehy said the foundation recently sponsored an infant CPR class at Christ Fellowship Church in Kingsport and is making plans to offer ongoing CPR classes in the area.

Dr. Jerry Blackwell, the heart institute's president, said Neil's Walk is a wonderful event because it incorporates exercise, a key component of cardiovascular health and the Wellmont LiveWell initiative. He also said projects funded through the foundation fit perfectly with the heart institute's Level One Heart Attack Network, which is designed to ensure rapid response for someone who might be suffering a heart attack.

"The Danehys are making a tangible difference in the community," said Blackwell, a medical doctor who has participated in the walk. "We applaud their foresight to establish a foundation that provides an extra measure of security for people who use public facilities and might need immediate medical assistance."

The walk begins in front of J. Fred Johnson and proceeds on major streets such as Fort Henry Drive and Eastman Road and through a local neighborhood before finishing in the stadium, where people are greeted with balloons and music.

Participants should register for the walk by visiting and clicking on the registration link. Registration will also be available the day of the event. The cost is $18.

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