Premier Health is pleased to announce the African American Wellness Walk (AAWW) is returning for its 22nd year this fall. This year's walk/run event will be a hybrid event - with both a virtual option and an in-person option. The virtual walk will be on going with a kick-off on Juneteenth. The in-person walk will take place at the University of Dayton – Curran Place, 1700 Patterson Blvd, Dayton, OH 45409 on Saturday, August 13 at 7:30 a.m.

Last year's event saw more than 1,700 participants across 44 states and six countries. We were able to raise $60,000 to benefit local organizations working to address the social determinants of health in our community. With our theme “Join Our Stride””, the 2022 AAWW looks to be bigger and better than ever. This year, all proceeds will benefit the on-site health clinics and students at Central State University and Wilberforce University who are pursuing health-related degrees to strengthen the diversity and cultural competency of our healthcare workforce.

The AAWW was established in 2000 to raise awareness and combat the heart health disparities for African Americans. In the two decades since, the walk has grown to address the alarming underlying health conditions that plague our families and friends in minority communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the nation and in our own backyard, we continue to see stories of inequitable treatment of African Americans. The AAWW seeks to highlight these inequities, ranging from social justice to healthcare access, and raise awareness on how we can work together to combat them.

A 2019 assessment by Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County has shown that Black babies die at a rate that is four times higher than White babies. Black women are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care and are twice as likely to have a low-birth weight baby compared to White women. Across Montgomery County, Black men have higher rates of heart disease, stroke, prostate cancer, and diabetes when compared to the countywide average. The average lifespan for a Black man in Montgomery County is 65.5 years – six years less than White men and 13 years lower than White women.

The pandemic has also disproportionately impacted African Americans. Black Ohioans make up about 13% of the state's population, yet account for larger percentages of COVID-19 cases (22.8%), hospitalizations (30.6%), and deaths (18.7%). Although Black people are only 21.5% of the county population, they account for 35.5% of COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County. According to the Ohio Department of Health's statistics from June 14, only 30.11% of Black Ohioans have now been fully vaccinated. As a healthcare provider, we are acutely aware of how the “social determinants of health” impact health outcomes and are committed to providing greater support and awareness.

As an important community partner, we are asking for your support. We hope you will consider joining us to help sponsor this year's African American Wellness Walk and eradicating disparities in the minority community.