Heart Walk 2023: Heart-ly Breaking a Sweat* While Helping the World

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They know the routine by heart: TECO team members posing for the official Heart Walk 2023 group photo Nov. 4.

Pounding beats from the DJ, pounding feet on pavement: Heart Walk 2023 got TECO team members’ hearts beating a little faster to try to stop a silent killer.

Taking to the streets around Raymond James Stadium Nov. 4, they helped power a community event that was a ton of fun for tens of thousands of participants. More importantly, it was the kind of push the world needs to defeat the disease that kills more people in the United States than any other.

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How better to get a bird’s-eye view of Heart Walk action than with a Tampa Electric bucket truck?

On a cool Saturday morning, a crowd sprawled across the field just south of Raymond James Stadium. TECO team members in their bright yellow shirts peppered the scene, mingling. There was no shortage of strollers and four-legged friends on leashes, with dogs ranging in size from those that could fit inside pockets to others as big as small horses (or maybe that was an actual Shetland comfort pony?). The DJ continued to play goodsongs, including a catchy mix of popular ones with the right rate to guide Hands-Only CPR compressions.

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During the Heart Walk, Shawn Copeland’s wife Barb and their son James (right) joined Tampa Electric’s President & CEO Archie Collins (middle), Executive Director Qiana Cressman and Sr. Development Director Cristina Spohr (left) from the American Heart Association - Tampa Bay.

It was the culmination of a journey TECO has been on since tragedy shook the company.

“Today I walk for Shawn,” Tampa Electric President and CEO (and Heart Walk 2023 Chair) Archie Collins shared with the crowd, speaking of beloved departed Vice President of Safety Shawn Copeland. “Shawn was a real friend. He was a coworker. Shawn was also a husband, he was a father, he was a granddad, he was a mentor. He was a man of faith. And he was taken far too soon because of a heart attack. So, I walk for Shawn today as I know many others from the TECO family do as well.”

Shawn’s wife Barb and their son James joined Archie as walkers set out, circling the stadium. There were scores of people to walk for; nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. alone die from heart disease annually.

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…and they’re off!

There were hopeful stories as well (plenty from TECO), like that of Derek Stock, who – when he was a TECO team member a couple years ago – saved his son Levi’s life after the boy was struck by lightning and nearly drowned. Ask yourself how things would go if a heart attack happened at your home tonight: would you know what to do? Easy-to-learn lifesaving training could turn out to be the most important instruction you ever receive.

And think about the year ahead, all the people who don’t know now that their time will soon be up because of heart disease. It’s not always too late to make heart-protecting wellness a priority.

The 2023 Heart Walk, meanwhile, helped make awareness and fundraising personal. Nothing’s more personal than losing a loved one, and loved ones are too often lost to heart disease. At the Heart Walk, walkers carried the memory of those we’ve lost – invisible footsteps with profound impact, marching toward a cure.

“Thank you to the entire Tampa Electric team for your hard work and dedication to our Heart Walk campaign this year. You were able to raise $272,000 (and counting!) and recruit over 200 walkers this year,” said Cristina Spohr, American Heart Association - Tampa Bay Senior Development Director. “Archie – Your leadership truly has inspired not only employees within your organization, but other leaders, organizations, and community members to follow suit. The impact that you made this year not only with our Heart Walk campaign, but through your support of our CPR in Schools initiative will truly help to save lives here in Tampa Bay.”

Check out all the fun pictures from the 2023 Tampa Bay Heart Walk by visiting Tampa Electric’s Facebook page.

*Some people jogged, bursting triumphantly across the finish line.

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Archie crossing the finish line with Barb and James Copeland.

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Communications & Marketing team members representing their Heart & Sole team at the Heart Walk.