By Teresa Varley
Safety Ryan Clark and his wife Yonka kicked off National Start Walking Day for the American Heart Association.
Clark was on hand at the USX Building in downtown Pittsburgh, leading stretching exercises that people should do prior to heading out for a walk. Clark is part of a program that is encouraging people in Pittsburgh to walk as a way to fight heart disease.
"The cause is very important," said Clark. "It's about people getting healthy. You look around and there is so much fast food you can eat here and there. People don't get out and get active, especially in the climate we have here with the weather."
Clark and his wife have been involved with the American Heart Association for several years, spurred to want to do something because of the history of heart disease in Yonka's family. Both of her grandparents were recently hospitalized with heart issues, while her father has undergone a triple bypass.
"It is very prevalent in her family and that is why we do it together," said Clark, who chairs the Pittsburgh Heart Walk. "It's not just me chairing these events. She does it with me also. If there is anything we can learn from it in order to help her or my kids it is definitely beneficial to both of us."
The fun-loving and entertaining Clark enjoyed getting the crowd of employees from the USX Building moving, happy to see many of them in their tennis shoes ready to take a walk once the stretching ended.
"It is fun," said Clark. "It's not hard for me to get out there and do it. It's really simple, but you are helping such a great amount of people and are allowed to touch a lot of people. I feel like I am part of Pittsburgh being out in the city doing this. I felt that way at the parade too."
Local companies are encouraging their employees to wear their tennis shoes to work and take walks during their lunch breaks. People are encouraged to spend 30 minutes a day.
"Sometimes you ask people to do things that are a little bit hard, to extend themselves in ways that they can't," said Clark. "But for the most part, barring disabilities, people can get out and be active and move around. It's pretty easy for them if they have the will. My being out there in front of them might give them the extra push."