In 2005, Gail Lewis had triple bypass surgery.
Since 2006, she’s been walking in the annual national walk for cardiac health, which took place at Kinsmen Fieldhouse Saturday morning in Kelowna.
The Walk of Life is an annual fundraiser held by the Central Okanagan Association of Cardiac Health (COACH), as part of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada.
Participants of all ages warmed up their muscles before heading out on a 1.6-kilometre walk along the Mission Park Greenway.
The walk is the nonprofit organization’s biggest fundraiser and this year is the 15th event in Kelowna.
The COACH program aims to provide education and exercise strategies to lower the participant’s risk of developing heart disease.
Lewis went through the program after her surgery.
“The COACH program has been absolutely phenomenal. It’s helping others prosper. Once you’ve had surgery it can be so overwhelming,” she said.
“I couldn’t afford to go through it, so the COACH money raised this way will help someone like me go through the program.”
The walk brought out a lot of smiling residents.
“Everyone’s so enthused by it, so many of them have had heart troubles,” said Lewis.
Through her walks, Lewis has raised approximately $30,000 on her own after being inspired by the program.
The event sees between 100 to 200 people each year who are typically alumni of the program and their families, said lead organizer Jennifer Taylor.
Walking is a big part of cardiac rehabilitation, “anything to get your heart pumping,” said Taylor.
“I think that rehab is just so important. We know that people who attend cardiac rehab have a lower rate of remission into the hospital, so it’s actually a cost saving thing,” she said.
“It’s good to draw attention to the fact this program exists.”
She expects to raise around $35,000 from the event.