Volunteering for the 2011 Tampa Bay Heart Walk

On November 6, 2011, I arrived at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to volunteer for the Heart Walk. However, I had no idea where I was going, what I would be doing, or really even what time I needed to be there.

I registered online for the event and I was given an account to use to raise money for the event and spread the word about it to my family and friends. There was no information linked from this account, however, that told me what I might be doing as a volunteer or when and where I needed to go when I arrived at the event. When I arrived, I just walked around all the tents and booths set up until I found one that had a “Volunteers” sign. The lady at the booth had a long list of names of, I am assuming, volunteers, but my name was not on the list even though I had signed up online. She just wrote my name down, gave me a map of the event, and sent me to a welcome booth to find something to do. That is where I stayed for the majority of the event and passed out maps and answered any questions that people had as they arrived.

The were several companies and other organizations that had booths set up at the Heart Walk, such as Regions Bank, Walgreen’s, and Subway, which also provided sandwiches for everyone after the walk. There were large, colorful maps which outlined where each booth was set up around field on which the event was held, which I was partly in charge of passing out to people and using to show people where to go. I felt like they did a great job of encouraging people to go around to the different booths. They even had one booth set up with breakfast food items, like juice and fruit, and placed bins of chilled water bottles in front of every booth along with bowls of dog treats for all the canine walkers.  During the event, there were a lot of ways they recognized the attendees who had been personally affected by heart disease. There was a wall to write loved ones’ names on and free hats who dealt with heart disease themselves. Overall, there was a lot going on to involve the walkers as well as promote the vendors and other companies who were there.

At the event itself, the American Heart Association was working to encourage people to follow them on social media sites. They encouraged the volunteers to hand out cards with their social media information on it, such as their Twitter and Facebook accounts. They also had information about this on the maps that were handed out to every person. They put a lot of work into encouraging social media. The American Heart Association’s Twitter account (@American_Heart) now has over 15,000 followers and their Facebook page has over 117,000 likes. I do not know what these numbers were before the Heart Walk, but I would say these are pretty large numbers.

Throughout the event, each booth set up was designed to educate the people about some aspect of heart disease and how to prevent it. There was a lot of information given out to people about the disease itself as well as information on how to improve their lifestyle to help prevent it. These steps definitely helped raise awareness about heart disease. Overall, I would say the Tampa Heart Walk was a successful event. They could have done more planning to coordinate the volunteers, but everything else was well planned and executed.