WOLFVILLE - One of the founders of the Hearts on Ice fundraiser launched 23 years ago for the cardiac rehab program at Valley Regional Hospital was lauded on Feb. 10.
Dr. Howard Wightman was on the ice Sunday because his role now is mostly honorary. But Leo Glavine was there to recognize him for all of his health promotion efforts.
West Kings MLA Leo Glavine reminded those assembled that Wightman has “had a major impact on the Annapolis Valley.”
In a resolution to the legislature, Glavine called Wightman “an innovative and dedicated cardiologist whose work was inspired by the idea that coronary disease could be positively impacted by diet, exercise and aggressive risk factor reduction.”
The MLA asked his fellow legislators to congratulate Wightman for his leadership and considerable impact on the improvement of the well-being of Nova Scotians through his professional skills, coupled with his passion for advancing healthier lifestyle choices.
Responding, Wightman acknowledged both the longevity and success of Hearts on Ice, as well as the keen crew of organizers and volunteers.
He said the first year almost didn’t happen due to weather factors, but it went ahead. The event has been growing ever since.
Meanwhile, the program has expanded to take in patients with diabetes, respiratory problems and mild strokes.
One of the volunteers, Mardi Burton, who is a health manager, noted that a portion of the funds raised by Hearts on Ice contributes to the ongoing education of staff.
Hearts on Ice is a fun-filled afternoon with family skating, walking and games for children, including a turkey race involving Acadia University hockey players.
In 2016, Acadia University gave Wightman an honorary degree as a consummate health-care professional and community health promotion activist.
Wightman is also the co-founder of Life Cycle in Kentville. The June festival includes bike rides, a children’s bike rodeo, slow bike races, mountain bike workshops, Zumba and yoga classes.
The eighth annual event is slated for June 8 and most activities are free because of Valley Regional Hospital Foundation sponsorship.
Did you know?
The Valley Cardiac Rehab Program began in 1992 at Evangeline Middle School in New Minas, with leadership from Wightman and two keen dieticians at Valley Regional Hospital.
They began offering a 10-week program two to three times per year for patients with heart disease.
In 1997, Extended Warranty II became a legal entity and began operating under the guidance of the Valley Cardiac Rehab Society (VCRS). The first Hearts on Ice fundraiser was held the same year. Today, VCRS offers a new 10-week program every five weeks for patients with a variety of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and COPD. Well over 2,000 patients have benefitted from their programs. VCRS operates in partnership with Valley Regional Hospital and Acadia University’s Department of Kinesiology.