Despite the winter weather, friends and families from all over Rome gathered at the Town Green to participate in the Heart Walk Saturday morning.

“Welcome to the Heart Walk and snowball fight!” Heart Walk Chair Chris Jackson joked with attendees.

Because of the high water levels, no paddling took place and it was also deemed too slippery to cycle, but attendees joined in on a planned walk around downtown as snow sprinkled on their heads.

Beforehand, Heart of the Community Grant recipients were honored and given their checks.

Recipients included Action Ministries, Brighter Birthdays, Community Kitchen, Elevation House, Free Clinic, Hospitality House, Mercy Care of Rome, Open Door Home, Parks and Recreation- Fitness Station, Summit Quest and the YMCA.

At the event, Redmond Regional Medical Center handed out knit hats, scarves, gloves and backpacks to the attendees. Legacy Church had a tent set up with hot coffee, muffins, Powerade and other refreshments.

At the Heart of the Community Awards gala “An Affair of the Heart” later that evening, nine Rome residents were honored, and one local business.

Master of Ceremonies Bob Berry had attendees laughing as he talked about each honoree and past honorees.

Gordon Leiter was awarded the Board of Governors Award for his 33 year community involvement and volunteering. Leiter has worked with local organizations such as Rome Little Theatre Group, Floyd Medical Center/Heyman Hospice Care and Rome Area History Museum.

Leiter celebrated his 90th birthday on Tuesday, making him one of the oldest recipients of the award.

This year’s Young Heart Recipient Whit Molnar has raised $38,000 in donations from his lemonade and cookie stand. Molnar has been operating “Whit’s Lemonade and Cookie Stand” for eight years and is only 13-years-old. All of his donations go towards Open Door Home, which houses kids who have suffered abuse.

In videos honoring attendees, Molnar said he likes to start conversations between kids and their parents to learn about giving back and Open Door Home.

Other honorees included Willie Mae Samuel, Dr. Ryland and Jennifer Scott, Peggy Nash, Jarrod “J.J” Johnson, Linda Hatcher and Dr. Daniel Goldfaden.

Also, International Paper was given this year’s business award for donations and contributions to causes such as children’s education, hunger, health and wellness, and disaster relief.

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