The writer is the chief administrative officer of SEFCU and a member of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association.
It’s easy to only half hear the statistics, and continue on about your life. But when you see a baby in a stroller, a woman hugging her children, or 20 people wearing a shirt with a picture of a lost loved one on it, you can’t help but feel drawn in.
That’s why SEFCU is leading this Saturday’s Capital Region Heart Walk at The Crossings in Colonie. We’re doing it for our coworkers who live with heart disease or stroke; for our coworkers caring for loved ones affected by heart disease or stroke; for all of our nearly 300,000 members; and the entire Capital Region community.
SEFCU is “banking with a purpose,” and at the Heart Walk, our purpose is to join the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s fight against heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers.
Since first partnering with the American Heart Association in 2009, we have learned a lot about cardiovascular health. We learned that much of heart disease and stroke is preventable, primarily through exercise and good nutrition. At SEFCU, we serve healthy food at our in-house cafeteria, Zia Maria?s Café, we?re juicing fruits and vegetables, we offer fitness classes, and health and wellness education to our staff and their families. In addition to helping our staff feel better and lead healthier lives, it has also increased productivity.
A recent American Heart Association study showed that social groups affect health, and we believe that our staff takes the heart-healthy message home to family and friends, creating those healthy social circles beyond the workplace.
There’s a strong culture of volunteerism at SEFCU — you may have seen our volunteer teams with their SEFCU shirts at community events. We love the opportunities the American Heart Association has provided our teams to volunteer and show our team spirit. Our branches “go red” during February, American Heart Month, in what we wear, the plasma screens in our branches, and even our external lighting. We’re having fun raising money for Saturday’s Heart Walk. We have 25 teams, with over 200 walkers that will participate in the Heart Walk, and we’ve sold paper hearts in the branches, and held the very popular “Cupcake Wars.” You’d be surprised how delicious cupcakes made quinoa, beets, or kale can be!
On Saturday, we’ll take all the money our teams have raised and donate it to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. We are pleased that much of that money stays local. Currently, the American Heart Association is investing $2.1 million in research right here in the Capital Region.
This research will lead to progress in heart and brain care. Think of some of the progress made so far: drug-eluting stents; defibrillators that can be implanted in a person’s chest without open heart surgery; quick treatment of stroke to reduce disability; drug advances; the Pulse Ox Law, passed last year in New York to help determine if newborns have a heart defect; smoke-free workplaces; and the recognition that heart disease in women is different than heart disease in men.
For all those reasons, SEFCU supports the Capital Region Heart Walk on Saturday. But the biggest reason will come when survivors of heart disease and stroke stand at the front of the crowd and doff their red caps as we honor them. I hope you will join us on Saturday so that next year, we can salute even more survivors.
The Capital Region Heart Walk is set for Saturday, May 10, at The Crossings of Colonie. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the 1-or 3-mile walk steps off at 10 a.m. There will be breakfast, health screenings and health information, CPR trainings, a Kids Zone, and lunch provided by Subway.
For information, call 869-4043 or visit www.capitalregionheartwalk.org.