Heart Walk raises awareness about health inequities in the African American community

Leaders from the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity and the Triad Pastors Network are working to get more African American participations in this year's Heart and Stroke Walk.

Heart Walk raises awareness about health inequities in the African American community
October 19
14:01 2022

 “Health equity is when everyone, irrespective of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or community, has the fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires a holistic approach to remove obstacles to optimal health such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences. It means that everyone has fair housing, quality education, safe environments and access to health care,” said Dr. Goldie Byrd, executive director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.  

Health equity is the one of the reasons she’s pushing for more African Americans to attend the 2022 Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk. This year’s walk is in-person and takes place this Sunday, Oct. 23. It’s under the leadership of Dr. Bryd and Brad Roehrenbeck, general counsel and vice president of Legal Services & Compliance for MedCost. Dr. Byrd and Roehrenbeck are leading an executive leadership team to raise critical funds benefitting heart disease and stroke research and prevention education. 

“We want the African American community to join us in order to raise awareness about how heart disease and stroke are affecting our community. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and these two diseases are most prevalent and debilitating in the African community,” said Dr. Bryd regarding the push for African Americans to participate in this year’s walk. 

“We want dollars from the American Heart Association (AHA) to flow into our communities to conduct research, increase awareness, and assist with environmental and behavior changes that reduce prevalence of heart disease and stroke. Ultimately, we want a better quality of life and increased life expectancies that have been reduced in African Americans because of these diseases,” she added.

The Triad Pastors Network (TPN) is a huge supporter of the Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk and an integral component of the health equity initiatives put forth by the Maya Angelou Center. Their goal is to bring a holistic approach into the pursuit of health.  

“The Triad Pastors Network is an ecumenical, interfaith, and multi-generational group of faith leaders. The mission of the TPN is to establish asset-based trusted partnerships among regional pastors, and between pastors and the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity (MACHE). The partnership identifies health priorities, and sets agendas relative to the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health of their congregations and communities,” said Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams, who is a member of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity and serves as a facilitator between the faith community and Wake Forest School of Medicine.

“The Walk is an event that was approved by the TPN as its collaborative activity among TPN faith communities for 2022. It is just one health event hosted by the TPN and fits well with our mission and purpose,” he said.

According to a press release from the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year in the United States than all forms of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined. Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. According to the 2019 Forsyth County, N.C. State of the County Health Report, heart disease is the second leading cause of death and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Forsyth County. However, heart disease and stroke are largely preventable by knowing your vital health numbers, managing your personal risk factors and making heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and becoming more active. 

“A healed African American community will be healthier, in general. It will not simply be the absence of disease, but it will have equal access to overall excellent health, wealth, and well-being,” said Dr. Byrd.  

Everyone is invited to register to walk at the in-person 2022 Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk at Bailey Park in Downtown Winston-Salem. With Healthy for Good Sponsors Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and MedCost, and Forsyth Life is Why Sponsor Novant Health, check-in starts at 1 p.m. and the walk begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 23. Register today at to register to walk or form a team. For event questions, contact

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