Heartfelt run, walk

Delta Sigma Theta sorority hosts event


Members of the Gainesville Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. at the Listen to Your Heart 5K Red Tutu Run.

CHRIS PHILLIPS OF ELEGANT PHOTOGRAPHY/Special to t
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.

Bright blue skies and 34-degree weather provided a beautiful but challenging setting for the nearly 250 — mostly "red tutu-clad" — runners who participated in the Listen to Your Heart 5K "Red Tutu" Walk/Run sponsored by the Gainesville Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

The event, which was held Saturday at Northeast Park, had a family feel, with serious runners mixed in with families, small children in strollers and even a red tutu-clad chihuahua walking and running through the Duckpond Neighborhood.

The event began with stretching exercises, and after the run, everyone enjoyed a breakfast of fruit, bagels, cream cheese, granola bars, cupcakes and other food.

Starbucks coffee was available throughout the event, now in its second year and part of the sorority's centennial celebration. Proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association Go Red for Women campaign.

"We are absolutely delighted that participants had such a great time," said Tyran Butler, event organizer and chairwoman of the sorority's physical and mental health committee. "It was awesome."

Butler said all of the runners received a goody bag filled with a water bottle, red dress pin, cell phone screen cleaner and a red T-shirt imprinted with "Keep Calm and Listen to Your Heart." The bags were provided by the Florida VirtualSchool.

Wendy Fletcher-Shannon, president of the Gainesville chapter, said she was pleased with the great community support.

"I'm overjoyed with the phenomenal turnout," said Fletcher-Shannon. "We're talking about being healthy and being aware of our heart health. We're tickled red and we want people to keep calm and listen to their heart."

Daniel Tressler III, an 11-year-old from Orlando, won overall by besting a field of nearly 250 runners. To keep perfect time, a chip was embedded into each runner's bib.

Daniel is a seasoned runner who participates in events throughout Florida. His goal someday is to compete in the Olympics. "I like running because I can get away from all the pressure and have a good time," Daniel said.

Daniel Tressler II, who was at the event supporting his son, said events that support the American Heart Association are dear to his family because as a 2-year-old Daniel was diagnosed with Kawasaki Syndrome, a disease that can affect young children and can result in long-term heart disease.

"Daniel's heart is now 100 percent," said Daniel Tressler II, "and he wants to give back."

The event garnered high praise.

Gainesville resident Tammi Johns said this was her first time at the Listen to Your Heart 5K Red Tutu Walk/Run.

"This event is very well organized," Johns said.

Katie Wade, founder of the Gainesville-based Hot Legs, a long-distance running club, said the race was fun and the route beautiful.

"Any organization that supports women's health," Wade said, "we're interested in supporting."

Gainesville resident Diana "Diva" McPherson, a sorority member, said her two daughters, Dia Hurt of Orlando and Dana McPherson of Gainesville, ran together. She said they had a great time and improved their time from last year.

"The real issue is to support the heart association," said Diana McPherson. "Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and we want to keep it in the forefront."

Gainesville resident Mike Malo got into the fun of the event by wearing a red tutu and running with his wife, Katie Malo.

He said this was their first running event, but it won't be their last.

"We want to do more because it's fun and healthy and something we can do together," he said.

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