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Exercise for a cause this weekend with local nonprofit Heart N Hands. The organization is hosting a virtual 5K September 18-20 to raise funds for its programming, free virtual fitness sessions, and donations to citywide food drives.

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The nonprofit was founded by Essence Banks in 2014 and focuses on raising awareness and educating girls aged 10-18 about heart health and heart disease prevention. Banks, a heart disease survivor of 16 years, started the organization in an effort to proactively educate young women about heart disease, the leading cause of death for women in the country. 

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Running for the Heart 5K, which also commemorates Heart N Hands' sixth anniversary, will raise awareness about heart disease and encourage the New Orleans community to love their hearts through physical activity, heart health eating, and healthy lifestyle choices.

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The 5K can be completed by running or walking anytime this weekend at your own pace. An in-person race (limited to just 25 participants) will also take place on Saturday, September 19 on Bayou St. John. New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition and BikeEasy have also partnered with Heart N Hands to offer Riding for the Heart this Saturday. BikeEasy will provide bikes as needed and race bibs as well as prizes and giveaways.

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Heart N Hands hosted its first virtual 5k in July 2020 to encourage the community to get active. "This 5K was a part of our weekly virtual love your heart fitness sessions offered in light of Covid-19. We had participants from all over the country and Malaysia!" Banks told Adore.

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Banks found the experience of planning a virtual and in-person 5K rewarding. "We have had an opportunity to coach the community about the importance of physical activity, benefits of walking and running on the heart, as well as highlight the beautiful walking and bike paths along the Bayou and in the Gentilly area. As we started marketing this 5K, we received so many positive comments from the community looking for ways to get out and start and/or continue their workout regimen. This 5K will provide heart healthy resources and education, complete streets updates on safe streets and pathways in our communities, and morning fitness stretches."

Join in on the fun and register for this weekend's 5K online now!