REED CITY — Almost no family has not been touched by heart disease in one way or the other.

Heart disease, in its many forms, is so very invasive in ever corner of society; so very studies by generations of scientists and physicians; and so in need of even more research before it is fully understood.

In order to raise to both encourage a healthy lifestyle and raise funds in support of continuing research into the causes and effects of heart disease, the Reed City Chamber of Commerce, Vic’s, the Reed City Area Public Schools, and a collection of countywide local individuals and organizations, will be sponsoring the first HeartChase — a national awareness effort designed by the American Heart Association.

A committee of locals is ramrodding the event which will be held Saturday, May 18.

According to the Heart Association’s program plan, HeartChase” ... is an innovative community event that provides a fun, new way to promote healthy living and support a great cause.

“ ...when you combine awesome games, friendly competition, and a very important mission, you’ve got great fun with a purpose.

Your HeartChase event brings families, friends, and coworkers of all ages together in a community-wide competition to uncover clues, solve puzzles and complete challenges in a race to the finish line.”

And it is all for a purpose

“Cardiovascular disease and stroke are our nation’s first and fourth killers and much of these problems can be reduced or even eliminated with healthy living, exercise and healthy lifestyle habits.”

Planning committee representative Suzie Williams is excited about the potential for this event for the larger Osceola County community.

“We want to bring people together in an organized event; have a lot of fun as a group or team; offer outdoor fun; handout some heart-smart snack; and just make a great day of it,” she said.

“This program is designed to be a fun contest — similar to the Great Race. It is suitable to people of every age.”

The HeartChase event will take place in Reed City - largely along the Rails-To-Trails and in the north end park system.

Participants will walk from station to station at which there will be different challenges along with information — all focused on developing a healthy heart.

Completing each fun challenge gives teams points.

It will take about two hours for each team to complete the entire event challenge.

“Along the way there will be additional challenges and things hidden away along the trail,” said Williams. “A bit like a scavenger hunt.

“There will be extra points opportunities. It’s just all in good fun, and certainly something the entire family can do.”

There will be prizes warded at the end for the first three teams.

Participation in the HeartChase costs $15 per person, and teams and individuals are encouraged to raise pledges as well.

All proceeds go toward support of the American Heart Association’s continuing education, awareness, and informational campaigns and efforts.

“This is a great outreach for a number of reasons,” said Williams. “First, it supports a great cause.

“Second, it gets people — individuals, groups, and families — outside and having fun. It really is just a great ‘excuse’ to get out and active.”

Organizers are busy looking for additional sponsors and a lot of participants and teams.

It is easy to sign up. Those interested can go to HeartChase.org and there will be a menu for signing up teams and individuals.

There also is a need for volunteers to  run each station along the HeartChase “trail.”

The number of stations run in this inaugural event may well depend on the number of volunteers willing to get involved.

“We welcome folks from all over the county,” added Williams. “We’re calling this event the Reed City-Evart HeartChase, but others can come as well. The more involved, the more fun there will be for all.

“We are looking forward to a fun time.”

The American Heart Association wants to spread the mission to every town and save more lives. No one gets healthy by accident, so get involved and be a part of the healthy solution for everyone.

Potential sponsors, volunteers, and participants can all call Williams at the Reed City Chamber office for more information.