SVS members get ready for second annual vascular health awareness event

The annual walking initiative benefits the SVS Foundation

September’s Vascular Health Step Challenge is fast-approaching, and SVS members are preparing to step up to meet it. 

The challenge benefits the SVS Foundation, which asks people to walk 60 miles—representing the 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body—throughout September. Funds raised will help the Foundation amplify the importance of vascular health while also promoting healthy vascular health habits throughout the country. 

Participants all receive a Step Challenge T-shirt and can walk individually or as part of a team. Those who registered by Aug. 5 will receive their T-shirts by Sept. 1, the start of the campaign. 

September is National Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to highlight the benefits of walking and overall vascular health. Walking is a front-line therapy for PAD, a chronic disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries to the legs. Vascular surgeons deal with PAD routinely and, thus, are the perfect advocates for walking, said SVS Foundation Chair Michael Dalsing, MD. And, as vascular surgeons are, by nature, highly competitive, they’re typically up for such a challenge. 

For example, in asking several of 2022’s top fundraisers why they put their shoes to pavement last year, answers included the importance of walking—and beating another surgeon. 

Adam Beck, MD, walked and donated for two reasons, he said: “To support the SVS and to try to encourage others to walk as well through competition and to beat Dr. [Leigh Ann] O’Banion.” He noted, “(I lost, no surprise).” 

O’Banion, who walked as part of “Team FAB,” laughed at his response, saying her two reasons were: “I am committed to advancing the care of patients with PAD in disadvantaged and rural patient populations, and I am the most competitive person ever and was so proud to be part of a FABulous group of surgeons who kicked some butt!” 

O’Banion’s 27-member team raised the most funds, a healthy $12,970. 

Said Jesus Matos, MD: “I walked and donated because I wanted to be a role model to all of our patients. Exercise is the most powerful medicine for all chronic illnesses and the best predictor of longevity,” he said, adding, “Walk with me, 2023.” 

Laurel Hastings, MD, was also part of “Team FAB.” “I walked to support programs that fund community outreach, bringing awareness to PAD, and to give Leigh Ann O’Banion a formidable competitor,” she said, adding with a smile emoji, “See fundraising results please.” (Let the record show she was the top individual fund-raiser, beating O’Banion by $60.) 

Surgeons are undoubtedly planning their competitions for this year. 

The Vascular Step Health Challenge entry fee is $60. New this year is a “pay -it-forward” registration to help cover the participation fee for low-income vascular patients. 

The program takes place on the Charity Footprints platform. During registration, participants can link their fitness tracker to the platform to automatically log steps throughout the month of September. Eligible trackers are Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, Google Fit, Misfit and Strava. Those people who don’t have eligible trackers can enter their steps manually, or connect via their smartphone. 

Pay-it-forward participants, as of July 20, are: James Persky, Edward Gifford, Bethany Slater, Yong Daniel, Kate Shuman, Rhuseet Patel, Kimberly Thomas, William Shutze, Kathryn Bowser, Dejah Judelson, Simpledeep Banipal and Bill Maloney. 


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