Local Women Selected for BetterU Health Challenge

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Kristy Smorol, Communications Director
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Twitter: @HeartCNY

Local Women Selected for BetterU Health Challenge

WATERTOWN, NY—For the first time in the North Country, the American Heart Association will conduct the BetterU program, an innovative initiative that will chronicle local women's journey toward meaningful lifestyle changes that improve their heart health. The 12-week Go Red BetterU program is designed to remind all women of the need to make healthy lifestyle choices. The North Country BetterU program is being sponsored by Samaritan Medical Center, YMCA, and media sponsors Watertown Daily Times, WWNY-TV, and Froggy 97.

The eleven women selected for the BetterU program were introduced at a kick-off event at Samaritan Medical Center this morning. Their stories will be featured in blogs and in local media with their success celebrated at the annual North Country Heart Walk Kick-Off in January.

"We were delighted to have so many applicants for the program. The stories of these women really create a broad picture of the health and life challenges women face," said Tom Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. "We know they will inspire us throughout the 12 weeks."

Each of the 11 women will receive a three-month membership at YMCA, a baseline medical evaluation from Gina Wetterhahn, PA, of Samaritan Medical Center; nutrition coaching from Nicole Garnsey of Feed The Soul; smoking cessation help if needed; and guidance coaching from Joleene Moody of JoleeneSpeaks!. The BetterU participants will have group workouts, food shopping field trips, and write about their progress on a blog devoted to chronicling their journey.

"We invite all local women to join the BetterU participants in making healthy lifestyle changes. Talk with your healthcare provider, get moving with exercise, take advantage of programs offered in the community, and visit www.GoRedForWomen.org for helpful tips and recipes," said Peter Schmitt, CEO of the Watertown YMCA. "Our goal is to make heart health a priority for local women.”

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., taking the life of one in three women -- almost one woman every minute. Research shows, however, that 80 percent of cardiac events in women are preventable with simple lifestyle choices involving diet, exercise and smoking.

The BetterU 12-week program begins September 30th and runs through December 27th.

Follow their progress online at http://northcountrybetteru.blogspot.com and on Twitter @HeartCNY.

BetterU Participants:

Angela Alpaugh:
Our next challenger says she moved to the North Country as a newlywed housewife two years ago and is looking for guidance to lead a healthier lifestyle. 38-year-old Angela Alpaugh, of Evans Mills, wants to learn how to get an exercise program she can stick with and the right eating habits to help combat her family history of heart disease.

Chelsea Bango:
Chelsea Bango knows it is time to make a change. The 25-year-old from Theresa says she has been overweight her entire life and is serious about improving her health. Bango says she struggles with figuring out the best foods for a healthy diet, and wants to get accurate information about what it takes to not only start, but maintain, a healthy lifestyle.

Deborah Biondolillo:
Deborah Biondolillo says she has been trying to diet for her entire adult life. The 51-year-old from Calcium wants to find out why she hasn’t been successful. She is self-employed with a physically demanding job and is looking for some extra encouragement to get herself healthy. Her father died of heart disease at a young age, but Biondolillo wants to do something to help prevent heart disease for herself and be a role model for her children.

Laurie Donohue:
Laurie Donohue says she has tried diets, but at 54-years-old, she says she has struggled. Donohue already suffers from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and lowering both of those numbers are her biggest goals. The Watertown woman says she wants to set an example for all of the women in her family.

Debra Farmer:
At 52-years-old, Debra Farmer says she is actively seeking the right kind of program to get her on track after many failures. Farmer, of Chaumont, says she wants to learn how to change her lifestyle to get healthy and avoid the suggestion of bariatric surgery.

JoEllen Heukrath:
Coming from a family history of heart disease, 58-year-old JoEllen Heuktrath says she is incredibly motivated to make a significant change in her lifestyle. Heukrath, of Deer River, wants to become better educated about healthy lifestyles so she can hold herself accountable and improve her health.

Patricia Hovorka:
Patricia Hovorka just celebrated her 60th birthday. The Adams woman says she is starting feel old and wants to change that. She wants to lose weight and get in better shape, along with lowering her cholesterol so she can get off cholesterol medication. She says she wants to be proud of herself again and set an example for her children and her grandchildren.

Patricia Howell:
After losing her mother to a heart attack and heart grandmother to a stroke, Patricia Howell, of Watertown, says she wants to be around for her three grandchildren. At 68-year-old, Howell is our oldest participant, but says she is motivated and committed to the program.
Krista Kittle:
44-year-old Krista Kittle, of Watertown, says she wants to lead by example. Often representing the hospital in community events and in the media, Kittle says she wants to be a role model for the wellness and prevention behaviors that all Americans are being encouraged to commit to as part of the healthcare reform legislation.

Shawna Rich:
Shawna Rich has tried changing her habits before, but is looking for help to succeed. The 28-year-old from Carthage is looking for positive lifestyle changes regarding nutrition and exercise that will help her live a longer, healthier life. She wants to keep up her motivation to make lasting changes and avoid her family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Michelle Swike:
The number one goal for 38-year-old Michelle Swike from Carthage is to quit smoking. Swike says she has always battled with her weight and has made a decision to life a healthier life. She wants to ditch her smoking habit, get in shape, and show other women that they can do it too.

About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, we’re the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases — America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers — we fund
cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health.
To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org.

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