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POINT OF VIEW: Walking the walk

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! 

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