MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU’s Keith M. Huber can vividly recall multitudes of stories from his nearly 40-year career in the U.S. Army and the time he convinced university President Sidney A. McPhee to tandem jump out of an airplane with the Army Golden Knights several years ago at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
And, the retired lieutenant general can share about his life-threatening heart attack, also in recent years.
So, it’s fitting that Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU since 2015, accepted the role as chair for the annual Rutherford Heart Walk.
The event, set for Saturday, Sept. 26, will be held virtually online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rutherford Heart Walk participants and teams will not physically meet, but are invited to get moving at home or around the neighborhood, starting at 9 a.m.
This year’s event occurs three years after Huber’s heart attack and triple bypass surgery and four years after his wife, Shelly, had surgery to repair a heart valve.
“My challenge now is to be worthy of every additional day that I’ve been provide,” he has shared numerous times since the night he nearly died.
Cardiovascular disease, including stroke, remains the No. 1 killer of Americans. Approximately 120 million people in the U.S. have one or more cardiovascular conditions and may be at a higher risk for COVID-19 complications.
Regarding the upcoming heart walk, Huber said, “Now, more than ever, is the time to take action and contribute to our community.”
“This virtual format allows everyone to continue to have fun and support our life-saving mission,” he added. “Let us work together to increase the collective awareness of the impact of heart disease and stroke. Go outside and get moving together, but safely, for the hearts of Rutherford County. Join my family and me as we participate in this important virtual event.”
Since the heart walk began nearly three decades ago, mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and stroke have dropped by 45 percent. Each walker and each donation have helped to transform health statistics into lives saved, but there is more to be done.
On Sept. 26, virtual activities, including a digital start and finish line, mile-marker celebrations and real-time participation, will take place on the Greater Nashville American Heart Association’s Facebook Page.
Fun activities to consider for your heart walk:
• Take a walk outside, following current social distancing guidelines.
• Get the entire family involved and have an indoor dance party.
• Try out a few strengthening exercises like push-ups, lunges and squats.
• Create a home circuit workout.
To register, visit www.RutherfordHeartWalk.org. Participants can stay up to date by downloading the heart walk mobile app and encourage family and friends to join in via email or social media.
On the day of the heart walk, all are encouraged to wear their Rutherford Heart Walk T-shirt and post photos and videos to document your activity using #RuthHeartWalk.
Huber works closely with the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, which has received a $1,000 grant from MT Engage, to be used toward a student engagement program that will take place as part of the heart walk.
The heart walk is sponsored by Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute. Huber is quite familiar with Vanderbilt Hospital. It’s where he and his wife went on Sept. 19, 2017 — a trip that saved his life.