Taking Steps to Raise Awareness about Heart Disease

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Taking Steps to Raise Awareness about Heart Disease

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Merck Heroes is a new feature spotlighting @Merck employee volunteers. September highlights Will Bowden: http://bit.ly/17vzAXp

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 10:00am

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When Will Bowden, an associate director of Sales in Los Angeles, attended a charity event, he had no idea that a routine blood pressure check would turn into a life-changing mission.

Will always thought he was healthy. He ate right, exercised regularly and had annual check-ups.  However, he got a wake-up call when a health care professional working the event took his blood pressure and recommended that he see a physician immediately. By the end of the day, Will was diagnosed with high blood pressure.  Will realized that his healthy diet and exercise regimen could not negate a previously unknown family history of heart disease. After processing the new diagnosis, he decided to do something to help others in similar situations.

“My story is not unique; in actuality, it exists millions of times over for many different people with all sorts of health-related issues,” said Will. “For this reason, I made a choice to take an active role in helping others understand the importance of health education.”

Drawing on his love for the outdoors, Will developed a plan to hike the 222-mile John Muir Trail and launched a Facebook charity site to raise awareness of heart disease.  Starting in Yosemite and ending on Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet, the trail usually takes 21 days to finish. On August 31, 2012, Will set out on his solo hike and finished just 8 days later.

Carrying supplies while keeping pace to travel 26-32 miles per day proved to be Will’s greatest challenge. The hike included going over several passes at elevations ranging from 9,000 to 13,000 feet.  His only contact with other people were brief encounters with hikers along the way. On Day 4, he was encumbered by a sprained ankle, which he wrapped in duct tape for the remainder of the hike.   Along with these challenges came rewards. His venture received a lot of attention which helped him raise $7,000.

Will also participated in the Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont.  He placed in the top five and was one of only nine participants to finish the race in 70 hours without any rest.

“At the end of the day, it is important to educate yourself on your own health as well as your family history,” said Will. “By being aware and staying informed, you can make important choices about your health rather than waiting for a medical event to make the choice for you.”

Read this story on www.merckresponsibility.com

Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Community Engagement | Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Volunteers | heart disease | merck heroes

CONTENT: Article