When his father died at 76, about two years ago, Billy Pulice spent the final 12 hours visiting his dad in the cardiac care unit at United Hospital Center.
The work being done there made a big impression on Pulice; it helped spur him toward championing efforts for prevention and cure of heart ailments and stroke.
"It raised my awareness ... that there's still a lot of research that needs to be done, still a lot of education that needs to be done to try to prevent," Pulice said. "And if prevention doesn't work, then we have to have an action plan to correct."
Heart illness contributed to the death of Pulice's father, and heart disease and strokes also run in his family. Pulice's battle against the ailments is continuing as he serves as volunteer chairman for the Harrison County Heart Walk 2000.
So far, a total of $8,000 has been raised, a little bit more than a quarter of the total of $30,000 volunteers hope to raise, Pulice said. Twenty-five team captains, representing various businesses from around the area, have signed up to help.
And Pulice, 46, said more than 300 walkers are expected for the event from 11 a.m. to noon Sept. 9 at Robert C. Byrd High School's track, about twice as many as the 150 who walked in 1999.
Pulice wants area residents to know it isn't too late to get involved. People or businesses who still want to participate can call Pulice, a financial consultant/stockbrocker at Merrill Lynch, at his office. The number is (304) 848-1000.
Some people may just want to give money, he said. Others may want to walk in memory of a loved one affected by cardiac disease or stroke, he said.
Pulice points out cardiac illness, including stroke, still kills more Americans and West Virginians annually than any other cause, even more so than cancer.
Also, funds raised during Harrison County Heart Walk 2000 will stay in the state, he pointed out. Some goes to West Virginia University Hospitals for research, Pulice said. Other funds go to a Harrison County school board program to encourage Harrison County kids to live heart-healthy lifestyles, he said.
And money also goes to help cardiac rehabilitation programs at United Hospital Center, he said.
Following the one-hour walk, refreshments will be provided to walkers by Coca-Cola and Culligan Water, and a grilled lunch will be provided by Texas Roadhouse, Pulice said.
Participants can walk, jog or run to music provided by D.J. Ed Morrison, who donates his time for the day, Pulice said.
Assistant Managing Editor Matt Harvey can be reached at 626-1449.