Each beat of our heart sends our life’s blood through our body — usually effortlessly, always without a thought on our part.
To many, the heart also represents our center, the place where all the outside joys and hurts come to rest; the place from which we offer our greatest gifts.
The theme of the 15th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum is Straight to the Heart — Women’s Heart Health. It will be from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at the Payson High School campus. The $15 registration is due by March 14.
The event is dedicated to one of the program’s longtime contributors, Christy Walton.
Walton brought an enthusiastic wake-up to the Women’s Wellness Forum over the years, presenting Zumba, a Latin dance and exercise program.
She packed the Payson High School Studio Theatre, behind the school’s main auditorium, with women dancing to upbeat, fast-paced Latin music, getting their hearts pumping and their lungs drinking in the crisp spring air of the Rim Country. Laughing and shouting, Walton primed her students to absorb all the great information forum presenters offered.
Her sudden death in October of a massive stroke shocked family and friends. A fitness instructor for 32 years, Walton’s her death was hard for everyone to comprehend. Her love of music and dance and her gifts as a teacher opened many hearts to healing. Also a part-time counselor for the Payson Unified School District’s Park Program, she served as an advocate for children.
Abby Rike, the keynote speaker for this year’s event, knows how resilient the heart can be, even under the crushing weight of tragedy. Rike worked as an inspiring high school teacher for 13 years and was voted voted Teacher of the Year in 2003.
In 2006, Rike lost the life she knew and loved when a car accident claimed the lives of her husband and two young children. She shut down and for three years walked through life in a daze as her health deteriorated.
Fortunately, she was not alone; she had loving parents, supportive friends and a faith that sustained her.
Little by little she found the courage to return to living her life. She continued her education with a master’s degree in education. In 2009, she became a participant on “The Biggest Loser” television program. It proved to be the catalyst for the physical and emotional changes she needed to make. She gained strength, courage, wisdom and hope — and lost 100 pounds.
Rike shares the story of her life, loss and recovery in the book, “Working It Out, A Journey of Love, Loss and Hope.” She will bring this message to the Women’s Wellness Forum with her keynote address at 8 a.m., Saturday, March 23.
Following Rike’s presentation, participants will go into breakout sessions where an impressive list of speakers will address a variety of topics to help improve heart health and more.