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story.lead_photo.caption John Starling says he and his two teenagers will walk a mile to support heart health and stroke prevention at the April 27 Central Arkansas Heart Association Heart Walk.

John Starling makes his living partly with employee health-care benefits. He's the founder and chief executive officer of JTS Financial Services, LLC, headquartered in Little Rock's Riverdale.

So when good friend John Glassford of Health Advantage and Scott Davis of Arkansas Urology, chairman of last year's Central Arkansas Heart Association Heart Walk, approached Starling about joining the Heart Association's Executive Leadership Team, it was a good fit.

"We deal with this every day, and we see the impact," Starling says of the physical, emotional and financial effects of heart disease and stroke on patients, health-care providers, employers and insurers.

It's the third year JTS Financial has supported the Heart Walk, and Starling, this year's Heart Walk chairman who was on the team that put together the 2018 Heart Walk, also has a personal connection.

"As with most people, I've had family members and friends affected by heart disease," he says.

That also includes what he calls his "fellow employees," including one who had to have an artificial heart valve installed when he was in his mid-20s, and who recently addressed the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce on the subject. "It's really inspirational to see what he's accomplished," Starling says. "He's helping me on the message."

Starling, citing American Heart Association figures, points out that stroke is the country's No. 5 cause of death and the leading cause of disability.

The walk starts at 9:30 a.m. April 27 in North Little Rock's North Shore Riverwalk Park. Participants can walk one, two or four miles. There's no entry fee.

As chairman, he sees his role as "promoting the Heart Walk, and trying to bring awareness to heart and stroke prevention."

Starling and his two teenagers plan to walk the one-mile portion.

"I took my children last year," he says, adding that it's important to start talking to youngsters early about healthy living, exercise and fitness. "The Heart Walk is a great avenue for that."

Starling, who is 51, is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the UA Law School, from whence he received his juris doctor degree in 1993. He travels extensively and speaks frequently on health-care topics at conferences and meetings across the country.

He sits on the Plan Source Benefit Administration System Advisory Board and the QCA Advisory Board; he is an Arkansas Exchange-Plan Management Advisory Committee member and a member of the Catholic Health Initiative. A couple of decades ago, he says, he volunteered on the Baptist Health Foundation Board.

The event is also a fundraiser -- Starling says this year's goal, of which the association is within reach, is $390,000; late last week, the website, centralarkansasheartwalk.org, where you can also register, showed they've raised $267,227 so far -- but it's much more than that.

"There's a thousand people on the River Walk" each year, he explains. "There's tents and vendors and activities for the kids. It's a good family environment, and a company morale builder." Many firms sponsor walk teams, he adds.

"It's a really neat event to get out and get involved in. And you don't have to walk to come out and join us. It's a great way to spend a Saturday morning with the family."

Strollers and well behaved, leashed dogs are welcome; various booths will dispense "healthy snacks" and water, and the event will go on rain or shine -- though, in the event of severe weather conditions, the Heart Association will notify participants via the website about the status of the event.

A Heart Walk Care Team is available to answer questions, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call (501) 707-6600 or visit centralarkansasheartwalk.org. For more information, call (866) 430-9255 or email CentralArkansasHeartWalk@heart.org.

Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.
John Starling, whose company JTS Financial Services handles employee health-care benefits, is the chairman of the 2019 Central Arkansas Heart Association Heart Walk, April 27, in North Little Rock’s North Shore Riverwalk Park.

High Profile on 04/14/2019

Print Headline: Heart Walk stresses healthy living

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