Conscious Party: Have a heart — and some fun too

Photo courtesy of the Western Carolina Medical Society

What: Western Carolina Medical Society’s Heartstrings Family Fun Challenge

Where: Mountain Sports Festival, held at Carrier Park

When: Sunday, May 25, from 1-4 p.m.

Why: In addition to all the music, sporting activities and fun events planned for the Mountain Sports Festival, kids and adults also have the chance to help their uninsured neighbors gain access to health care — by simply playing a game.

During the second day of the festival, The Western Carolina Medical Society will hold its annual Heartstrings fundraiser, an athletic challenge that combines health and fun. Heartstrings raises funds for WCMS Project Access Program, which provides health care to more than 3,000 individuals in Buncombe County whose annual income is too low to qualify for the Affordable Care Act.

“This is the 12th year of Heartstrings,” says Julia Lockamy, lead fundraiser for WCMS. “Before it was more of an athletic event for individuals, but we thought it would be good to include families. We wanted it to be more accessible to the community at large.”

The Heartstrings Family Fun Challenge allows families to pass through a series of 10 stations, including a pool-noodle javelin throw, an obstacle course and a dress-up relay, while making their way to the finish line to receive their medal. The event is open to ages 5 and older. A prize basket valued over $1,000 will also be raffled at the event.

“The whole idea is for families to come out and have a good time,” Lockamy says.

Project Access draws on a network of over 500 Buncombe County physicians as well as Mission Hospital, area pharmacies and other volunteers who donate time, resources and expertise without reimbursement to provide health care to those not covered by Medicaid or insurance.

Lockamy says volunteers will be on hand to provide more information about Project Access. The entry fee for the event is $5, which can be made at the event or in advance via the website. Additional donations are also welcome.

For more information about the Heartstrings Family Fun Challenge, visit


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About Carrie Eidson
Multimedia journalist and Green Scene editor at Mountain Xpress. Part-time Twitterer @mxenv but also reachable at Follow me @carrieeidson

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