Coronavirus might be the villain of 2020, but the Adult Congenital Heart Association wants you to know about the dangers of congenital heart disease. Caused by defects in the heart’s structure from birth, CHD can cause a number of serious defects, like abnormal heart rhythms, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CHD impacts about 1 percent of births annually, and it’s estimated that in 2010, 1 million children and about 1.4 million adults in the U.S. were living with CHDs.
For over 10 years, the ACHA has been devoted to raising awareness, holding fundraisers, educating communities, and supporting a full lifespan for those impacted by congenital heart disease across the country. In 2019, the ACHA set out to design an independently hosted event to honor the 1 in 100 children and adults living with CHD, and the Walk for 1 in 100 was born.
For Houstonians who are directly impacted, or stand by a loved one with CHD, the Walk for 1 in 100 has become a highly anticipated event. Filled with excitement and joy echoing through the Picnic Loop at Memorial Park Conservancy, the half-day event is met with dancing, walking, and snapping photos of teams smiling in matching T-shirts. However, due to Covid-19, Houston’s Walk for 1 in 100 is going to look a little different this November.
Though it took hours of conversation to make the final decision to host the walk virtually, ACHA events manager Sarah Shuff knew that diving into these unprecedented waters was crucial for everyone’s safety. “For us at the end of the day, it came down to the fact we work with an at-risk population, and their safety is paramount,” says Shuff. Although the event is taking a new shape, Shuff assures that everyone at the ACHA is determined to make sure this year’s fundraiser is filled to the brim with fun in a variety of new ways.
For Emily Wells, the ACHA’s local event chair here in the Bayou City, there’s no doubt that November 8 is going to be a successful day for the ACHA and everyone participating in the Houston community.
“This is such a unique year that I think anything can happen,” Wells says. “We’ll encourage folks to register, and then fundraise any way they choose. Walk, run, hopscotch, or even host a virtual happy hour with your friends and supporters.”
Whether you’re looking to stroll a few miles around the neighborhood—Shuff predicts Houston participants will walk approximately 500 miles total—or raise a glass to raising funds for a great cause on November 8, there’s a variety of ways to participate in this year’s Walk for 1 in 100.
Plus, ACHA is following in the footsteps of many other events and marathons, including the 2021 Houston Marathon, by allowing folks to participate in the walk no matter where they are, anywhere in the world. So sure, you could meander through Memorial Park Conservancy like you would’ve during the pre-Covid times, but you could also do your part while you’re at home walking in Montrose. Your grandparents from down the street can join in while your brother in a different state and your aunt in a different country can support you too.
Due to this new element added to the walk, Shuff believes the local events taking place in cities across the country could connect people with CHD in a way never seen before. “The silver lining, the looking at the glass-half-full side of things, is definitely that it opens up this whole other world where you can have people participate,” says Shuff. “They can compete with other sites, they can talk to other sites, and people who live in certain markets, like in Houston, they’re supported all across the country, and they can participate more now because it’s virtual than they could in-person.”
Though there are still a few more weeks left until Houston’s Virtual Walk for 1 in 100 will connect people throughout our community (and potentially throughout the world) to raise awareness and funds for the ACHA, if you’re looking to make an impact right after this read, you’re in the right place.
Donations, which are greatly appreciated during a time where nonprofits are being hit especially hard by Covid-19, can be made any time on ACHA’s website. While on the website, you can also register for the walk to start fundraising now, find out more about the ACHA’s mission, and see what other teams are doing across the country.