The Southwest Riverside County Heart & Stroke Walk Leadership Breakfast was held at the Temecula City Hall Conference Center, Wednesday, Oct. 25, with a group from the Anza Electric Cooperative in attendance.
Kevin Short, the AEC general manager and executive leadership team member for the walk; Erinne Roscoe from KOYT-FM 96.7 in Anza; Steve Manseau and AEC Government Relations Liaison Jennifer Miller attended the invitation-only event.
The Heart & Stroke Walk is a fundraising event held by the American Heart Association and local sponsors. Companies like Abbott Vascular, Temecula Valley Hospital and Southwest Healthcare System are but a sampling of the honorable organizations invited to participate. Representatives from these companies spoke of their experiences with heart disease and stroke and the progress they are making in their fundraising endeavors.
Short was a special guest speaker at the gathering and pledged the cooperative’s support in the upcoming walk, April 28.
The AEC raised $4,000 at the 2017 5K walk event.
“We’re hoping to make the 2018 event more community focused and continue to look for ways to expand awareness of heart health to all of our members,” Short said.
He spoke of his personal experiences with heart disease and the support of friends, co-workers and family. He discovered the American Heart Association as a result, he said.
“I’m fortunate to have the best group of co-workers imaginable,” Short said. “On top of that, our democratically elected board of directors has always been very generous to charitable groups. So, when I approached all of these folks last year and said I was organizing a team to participate in the 2017 heart walk, they joined the cause. We ended up with most of the company and their friends and families walking. Together, we raised more than $4,000 for the association. It may not sound like much, but at the time it seemed like a pretty good start. This year, we’ve set the bar a lot higher.”
According to the American Heart Association Heart & Stroke Walk website, almost 1 million Americans at 305 events across the country will walk to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
The American Heart Association does not conduct research; it utilizes donations to fund research projects. Research applications are carefully selected by teams of scientists and health care professional volunteers. The AHA has funded 13 Nobel Prize winners and important medical discoveries, such as techniques and standards for CPR, the first artificial heart valve, implantable pacemakers, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents.
Heart disease statistics are alarming. Cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the United States alone, about one of every three deaths annually. About 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 40 seconds. According to AHA figures, approximately 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after effects of a stroke. Direct and indirect costs of these diseases are estimated to be more than $316 billion, and that estimate includes both health expenditures and lost productivity.
According to the AHA’s website, “The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, our organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters. We fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide critical tools and information to save and improve lives. Our nationwide organization includes 156 local offices and more than 3,000 employees.”
The AHA is the leader in CPR education and training and helps educate the public of the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. The organization provides treatment guidelines and educates lawmakers, policymakers and the public as they advocate for changes to protect and improve the health in all communities.
The Anza Electric Cooperative is not only participating in fundraising for the Heart & Stroke Walk, they are being educated and encouraged to adopt the heart-friendly lifestyle choices offered by the AHA. The effort is a heartfelt mission for Short, whose life has been touched by heart disease.
“Not only are we coming out in force for the walk,” Short said, “But our company has taken major steps toward our own employees’ wellness. I’m talking about major steps, literally.”
The AEC Human Resources department launched a “Fitbit” challenge, providing two-thirds of the cost of a Fitbit device for every employee. Fitbits measure steps taken, heart rate, calories burned and other healthy facts and is worn on the wrist like a watch.
“I’m proud to report that we have 100 percent participation, and our little company of 22 employees is racking up almost 5,000,000 steps per month – that’s 2,000 miles,” Short said.
Short said his desire for the entire community was for them to become involved on some level in the 2018 Heart & Stroke Walk. More information will be made available as the event nears.
To learn more about the American Heart Association Heart & Stroke Walk 2018, visit www2.heart.org/site/TR/HeartWalk/WSA-WesternStatesAffiliate pg=entry&fr_id=3041.