DECATUR — Marilyn Davis didn’t need the megaphone she brought to address the group that stepped off Wednesday from the south lawn of Shilling Hall to begin Millikin University’s annual Heart Walk.
But she and the 30-some people who made the entire three-quarter-mile trek around campus at midday were still making a big statement against heart disease.
Davis, chief of staff to the university’s president, said the campus community has at least two personal reasons to care — the unexpected death in 2009 of Millikin trustee emeritus Dr. G. Richard Locke from cardiac arrhythmia and the plight of junior Matt Alward of Moweaqua, who now awaits a heart transplant at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis.
“These sorts of things have driven the point home,” Davis said. “We all need to take steps toward living a heart-healthy life.”
Indeed, the university last week hosted a Heart Healthy Luncheon that was open to the public. Millikin is also a driving force this year behind the Macon County Heart Walk/5K Run later this month in Nelson Park.
The community event this year honors Locke, who was 72 when he died.
Credited with helping to make cancer care in Decatur what it is today, Locke was chairman of Decatur Memorial Hospital’s radiology department until 2000 and retired from the practice of medicine in 2002.
His widow, Judy Locke, said she is pleased her husband will be remembered in this way.
“We can’t do enough to chase the things that take our loved ones too early,” she said. “He didn’t live as long as we wished he would have, but he had a wonderful life in Decatur.”
By the time Millikin’s Heart Walk ended at Richards Treat University Center on Wednesday, about 50 people had taken part.
The event took place on the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day. Audra Burks, corporate events director for the association, said the purpose is for employers to encourage their employees to get out and walk.
“Walking not only helps reduce cardiovascular disease,” Banks said. “It also promotes a productive working environment by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and helping with blood sugars.”
Senior Owen Raymundo of Bolingbrook was one of several Millikin students who participated.
“Your heart is your body’s battery,” he said. “If it stops working right, your body stops working right.”