The American Heart Association is hosting its 5K Santa Barbara Heart Walk this weekend at the Santa Barbara Doubletree Resort to help fund the fight against heart disease and stroke in the United States.

Proceeds from the event, which will include VIP appearances from Aiose Quinn and Glee’s Lauren Potter, a musical performance from Irish band Foggy Dew and a raffle, will benefit the AHA — an organization that helps treat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease and stroke are the nation’s number one and number three killers and cumulatively claim more than 865,000 American lives annually.

According to AHA Business Development Director Lisa Thomas, the organization promotes proactive education and treatment before the diseases fully manifest.

“The American Heart Association stresses the importance that the youth are educated about heart disease,” Thomas said. “There are more deaths from the cardiovascular disease than all cancers combined.”

Third-year film and media studies major Madeline Fitzwater said her family’s experiences with heart disease inspired her to support the walk.

“Coming from a family that has a history of heart disease, I was really excited to learn that Santa Barbara is holding this event,” Fitzwater said. “I think heart disease and stroke are two health issues that are sometimes overlooked and it’s refreshing to see people raising money for these causes.”

Third-year history of public policy major Natasha Ropchan said community participation is integral for combating the illness.

“I am thrilled to hear that Santa Barbara is hosting the Heart Walk this year,” Ropchan said. “It is really nice to know that our community is being proactive about spreading information in relation to prevention and care, both of which are extremely important.”

According to Thomas, the event will also recognize those whose lives have already been claimed by the disease.

“One of the most beautiful aspects of the event is the fact that we offer tribute stickers that people can decorate and wear on the backs of their shirts during the walk,” Thomas said. “It’s a neat way to pay tribute to survivors and people whose lives have been lost. We also have a memorial wall, which has a huge heart that people of the community can sign.”

Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk kicks off at 10 a.m. Participation is free but walkers are encouraged to set a fundraising goal for the foundation. For more information visit