Keck Medicine of USC is a sponsor of the 2016 Los Angeles Heart Walk on Oct. 8 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. With a fundraising goal of $125,000, Keck Medicine is hoping to engage 1,000 employees to participate in its efforts to help the American Heart Association fight heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, and affects the lives of many of Keck Medicine employees, patients and their families.

The USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute (CVTI) has recruited 55 members for their Trojan Hearts team and raised more than $4,000 within one month. Team captains Ashley Valentino, support coordinator, and Liz Vela, clinic manager, have found creative ways to engage their staff, such as a practice heart walk culminating with a celebration, an ice cream social and raffles.

“I lost my father to a heart attack and another teammate lost her mom, so we’re doing this for our families and our patients who are impacted every day,” Vela explained.

The team is selling American Heart Association paper hearts in efforts to help Keck Medicine meet the fundraising goal and raise awareness.

Registered walkers are able to create personalized fundraising pages with the capability to send fundraising emails, connect to social media and track fundraising progress. The suggested fundraising goal for each walker is $25, and free T-shirts will be provided for those who meet this goal. There is still time to form a team or join an existing team to help the American Heart Association fund research and education for cardiovascular disease.

The Heart Walk begins at 8 a.m. Oct. 8 at the Rose Bowl. Before and after the walk, participants can enjoy a kids fun zone, grab giveaways at sponsor booths, learn about heart health, see CPR demonstrations and more.

For more information, to donate or to register for the 2016 Los Angeles Heart Walk, visit or email

— L. Alexis Young