Although World Heart Day fell on Tuesday, September 29, the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa celebrated the event early on Saturday morning with their first Safer 5K Healthy Heart, Healthy Community along the Blackwater Heritage Trail in Milton.

“This is our inaugural race,” said Sandra Park-O’Hara, one of the event’s organizers. “We had 35 runners and about 15 in staff, so about 50 altogether.”

The health department organized the event with Safer Santa Rosa, a network of organizations which provide services during each phase of an emergency.

The 5K will raise funds towards parade barricades and benefitting healthy communities, according to the Health department spokesperson. The event was also sponsored by the Anytime Fitness in Milton, The Healthy Start Coalition of Santa Rosa, Tobacco Free Florida and the Wal-Mart in Navarre.

The 5K event attracted runners and walkers of all ages, some even involved their pets, like Milton resident Chuck Mathews who brought his German shepherd, Loki. Mathews, who is also a member of the Pea Ridge Running Club, said this was Loki’s first 5K. Chuck said Loki serves as his regular running partner.

“(Loki) did good, I might have slowed him down a little though,” Mathews said. “He is going to do a few more (5K’s).”

Mathews took home a medal for the male over 55 years old.

Safer also served as a family outing for several attendees, like the Davies family of Milton.

“It’s something good to do as a family and it’s also healthy,” said Herman Davies, who participated in the 5K with his wife and two children.

Davies took a medal in the male 31 to 55 year old category. His son, Joshua took a medal in the male under 12 years old.

Mary Beverly also took part in the 5K with her 10-year-old daughter Keira and husband Kris. Beverly said the scenic route along the Blackwater Trail was “wonderful.”

In addition to having the Safer 5K become an annual event, Park-O’Hara also wants to keep the 5K at the bike trail in Milton.     

“We choose the Blackwater Heritage Trail because it is a great place for families to come and exercise and enjoy nature at the same time,” she said.   

Here are the medal recipients from the Safer 5K Healthy Heart, Healthy Community Run/Walk

· Joshua Davies (Male Under 12 years old) · Kiera Beverly (Female Under 12 years old) · Brendon Tripp (Male 18-30 years old) · Ginger Jennings (Female 18-30 years old) · Herman Davies (Male 31-55 years old) · Barry Brinker (Female 31-55 years old) · Chuck Mathews (Male Over 55 years old) · Barb McMillion (Female Over 55 years old)