Community Events Fuel Mission

Community events unite those affected by heart disease and stroke while generating revenue to fund the AHA’s research and community health work. Through live events and digital experiences, volunteers, participants and sponsors raised $286 million during a year when community and connection gained new meaning.

The Heart Challenge is a suite of experiences that’s helping companies and their employees lead healthier lives while making a lasting impact on their communities. Heart Walk, the AHA’s largest nationwide event with nearly 1 million supporters walking to fight heart disease and stroke, generated $96 million.

When communities pulled back on in-person events, Heart Walk supporters continued to “walk where they are,” including more than 5,200 Twin Cities residents who raised $1.5 million during their May virtual event. CycleNation riders pedaled heart and brain health awareness and delivered $3 million from nearly 40 stationary bike events. Field Day, the newest Heart Challenge activity, increased employee health and productivity by bringing play space to the workplace.

And the first-ever One Heartbeat livestream event in June shared the importance of gratitude, health and resiliency. Heart Challenge supporters and specials guests included three-time U.S. Women’s Soccer Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Mitts; three-time Super Bowl Champion and NFL Fox Sports Analyst Mark Schlereth; and former NFL player Tony Covington.

Through black tie galas and at-home events, $64 million was raised in support of the AHA mission by Heart Ball supporters, the second largest source of community-driven revenue within the AHA campaign portfolio. Corporate support and generous donor gifts helped nearly 50 events see increases from the previous year with six events achieving seven-figure fundraising results. The Heart Ball campaign continues to receive strong support from our most philanthropic donors, including Cor Vitae Society members, while sharing inspirational stories of survivorship and celebrating the impact of our work in communities.

As Heart Balls turned to digital experiences, local volunteer leadership drove support by highlighting AHA’s work in response to COVID-19. In May, the Boston Heart & Stroke Ball held one of its most successful events to date. The dynamic virtual program featured former NFL player and stroke survivor Tedy Bruschi, actor Josh Gad, survivors, advocates and guests whose support helped the event raise nearly $600,000 more than the previous year.

AHA Real Women class of 2020
AHA Real Women class of 2020

Go Red for Women continues to inspire women to take action to lower their risks for heart disease and stroke. Signature luncheon programs and first-ever digital experiences rallied supporters in 170 communities nationwide to generate $39 million to fund the mission. The movement, which has raised nearly $640 million since 2004, is supported through 2021 by a $15 million gift from CVS Health.

A few additional highlights:

  • Go Red’s National Wear Red and Give Day in February generated more than $2.4 million for the mission, up 17% from the previous year. From coast to coast, buildings and landmarks turned red while news anchors on all major national networks and stations across the country wore red and shared stories of survivorship and hope in support of the cause.
  • Research Goes Red registered nearly 30,000 participants and converted another 10,000 registrants to take part in research since launching in February.
  • To expand reach in Hispanic communities, where more than 40% of Latinas over age 20 live with cardiovascular disease, was translated into Spanish, thanks to the support of Adriana Gallardo, honorary lead of the 2020 Real Women class. Since launching in November, the site has garnered 224,000 unique page views.
  • In May, survivors Star Jones and Susan Lucci led Circle of Friends: An Exclusive Go Red for Women Experience. More than 900 Circle of Red members united for a virtual experience to inspire hope, foster community and support Go Red’s lifesaving work.

As students, parents and educators across the country adjusted to remote learning, the Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge were there to support them. With a 40-plus-year history of encouraging students to keep their hearts healthy while raising funds for the AHA, we helped families “Kick Cabin Fever to the Curb” when schools closed in the spring.

Ninth-grader Neel Sudhakaran of San Jose, California, is an avid Kids Heart Challenge participant — he even toured a Stanford University research lab to see his donations in action. “Helping other people not only honors my grandfather’s memory, but it shows how every person can work on helping their communities so that the world can become a better place,” he said.

Heart Hero Finn Blumenthal laughing on a swing
Heart Hero Finn Blumenthal

More than 70,000 families completed Finn’s Mission. Inspired by congenital heart defect survivor and national Heart Hero Finn Blumenthal, these activities teach important heart health lessons including the warning signs of stroke and Hands-Only CPR while also encouraging kids to help other kids with special hearts.

In total, more than 10 million students moved their way to heart health while raising $59 million. Participating schools also received grants for physical activity equipment and wellness initiatives.

The School Superintendents Association is supporting the AHA in our fight against youth e-cigarette use and vaping. Superintendents joined a national roundtable discussion to rally support for equipping educators with resources. Meanwhile, schools across the nation held more than 100 community dialogue events on Quit Lying Day to help parents and teens understand the effects of smoking and vaping.

Our Life Is Why We Give campaign garnered support across the nation. Shoppers at more than 400 retail companies, including Orangetheory Fitness, Advance Auto Parts, AT&T, Pilot Company and Stein Mart, generated more than $9 million through point-of-sale donations.

Hospitals and health care systems also heard the call to support those at increased risk for cardiac arrest or stroke as the pandemic continued to unfold. “Don’t Die of Doubt” reminded patients that 911 is still the safest call when facing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. In just six weeks, participating health systems generated $3.5 million in support of this message.