“Walking For A Heart” 5K Raising Heart Health Awareness
by James Coulter
Melanie Brown Culpepper knows the importance of first responders. When her fiancée, Michael Culpepper, suffered a cardiac arrest last July, she saw first-hand how first responders strived to help revive him. Unfortunately, he passed away, but she knew that they did their best to assist him, and she saw how much his passing hurt them as much as it hurt her.
“They came and tried to save him,” Melanie said. “I have seen first-hand everything that they did, seen what they can do because they are trying to save so many lives. They happened to know me. Once they found out they knew me, I could see the hurt in them.”
To show her support for local first responders, especially during these uncertain times with the COVID-19 crisis, Brown will be hosting her first 5K fundraiser in Winter Haven.
“Walking For A Heart” 5K will be hosted along the scenic shores of Lake Hartridge in Winter Haven on Sat., Feb. 27. Participants will gather and register at 7 AM, and the race will start at 8 AM.
While participants will not be running, they will be eligible to receive first, second, and third-place medals. They will also be encouraged to dress as either a superhero or a first responder, with a medal being conferred to the best dressed.
Proceeds from the event will help local first responders, with funds to help finance installing defibrillators throughout the city. The event will also raise awareness for heart health. Hopefully, these endeavors will help prevent potential incidents like those that lead to the death of her fiancée, Melanie said.
Shortly after her fiancée’s passing last year, Melanie started Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation. The foundation, as previously reported in the Daily Ridge, supports local first responders by raising funds for essential supplies they require and awareness for issues they experience.
This 5K will be the first event of its kind for the foundation. Melanie hopes to host many more soon. She plans on hosting a fishing tournament and a pool tournament later this year.
Assisting her with this 5K are her staff members from the foundation, who will also be participating in the Hearts Unlimited Team: Jane Waters, Lora Donley, Debbie Tennick, and Pastor Bobby Williams.
As for this event, the biggest challenge has been COVID-19. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Melanie cannot utilize many assets like bounce houses or food that she often provides at many of her other fundraisers. Nevertheless, she has nothing but high expectations for this event.
“I am doing this…not necessarily [to] raise a lot of money on this [event], but to get the word out there,” she said. “[Otherwise], I am looking forward to people gathering. Whether it is a child being born with a congenital heart disorder or a grandmother, anyone with a heart condition, or someone lost to heart failure, [the whole point] is everyone coming together and supporting this cause.”
Walking For A Heart will be hosted at 7 AM on Sat., Feb. 27 at Lake Hartridge Park, located at 1775 Havendale Blvd. NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881. For more information, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/honoringculpepper