Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Join the South Sound Heart Walk this Saturday

The American Heart Association will be hosting its annual Heart and Stroke Walk on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Cheney Stadium. This will be a new venue for the event and organizers are looking forward to a bigger Walk under the leadership of Tacoma Rainiers President Aaron Artman, who is chairing the Walk this year and in 2013.


·         Kids and Survivors Parade, open to all children at the event plus survivors of heart disease and stroke. Begins around 9:20 a.m., followed by the start of the Walk. ·         Recipient of the 2012 Lifestyle Change Award will be announced during closing ceremonies.

·         Top Walkers and Heart Walk Team Awards will be given out during closing ceremonies.

·         Emceed by KING 5 traffic anchor Tracy Taylor

The Heart and Stroke Walk is a non-competitive event, with 4-mile and 1-mile options. Community members interested in participating can sign up online at or by calling the American Heart Association in Tacoma at (253) 272-7854.  There is no registration fee; donations only.

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Why I support the South Sound Heart Walk

My Story – By Joseph Nienalt

Heart disease struck the first blow of the fight. The year was 1992. I was 17 years old. My grandfather Bob Coppola, who lived next door to me in Philadelphia for my entire life died from heart disease. Years later I would figure out a way to fight back against his killer.

By day, I’m a City of Tacoma employee. I work in Human Resources specializing in employee benefits and wellness. The City’s support of the American Heart Association is how I first became familiar with the annual South Sound Heart & Stroke Walk.

By night, I’m an aspiring screenwriter. I’ve won writing competitions and landed top representation in Los Angeles. I’ve made many movie industry contacts during my pursuit of a film career. One of those contacts is a literary manager named Daniel Vang with Benderspink. They manage actors, directors and writers and also produce movies. Daniel is a friend of mine and an honorable guy so when I called him with an idea that I felt could benefit a widely known charitable organization like the American Heart Association, he was all ears.

We’d get the word out that any aspiring screenwriter who made a donation to the American Heart Association during a specific time period would get to have their screenplay read by Daniel. In exchange for supporting a great charitable cause, a screenwriter with no movie industry contacts based anywhere in the world could have their work considered by a manager at one of Hollywood’s top management/production companies.

We promoted this opportunity on several websites that screenwriters frequent and many writers donated. A couple of Hollywood’s A-list screenwriters heard about what we were doing and asked if they could promote our cause on a nationwide podcast that goes out to thousands. Once that happened, donations came flooding in. For this year’s Heart Walk event, I have already raised over $30,000 for the American Heart Association.

In addition to raising money in honor of my grandfather, the Heart Walk has become an annual tradition for my family. My children participate in the Heart Walk every year. They also got to see me throw out the first pitch at a Tacoma Rainiers game as a direct result of my fundraising efforts. As a single father, setting a positive example for them is very important to me. This is one of many ways I try to do that.  

Heart disease may have struck the first blow against my grandfather 20 years ago, but if we keep working together, we can hit back harder and ultimately win the fight. Hope you can join me and hundreds of others at the South Sound Heart & Stroke Walk this Saturday, October 6 at Cheney Stadium. For more information, visit

Joseph Nienalt is a City of Tacoma employee who has raised more than $30,000 for this year’s Heart Walk.