Walking the Talk

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Heart Walk, a fundraiser dedicated to helping the American Heart Association in its mission to improve employee health and wellness in the Coastal Bend.

By: Erin Wilder

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Health problems cost corporate America nearly $100 billion each year in productivity losses. Read that again: $100 billion in losses every year. So it might sound strange, but business leaders have become health care leaders by default. They are, at some level, contributing to the health, good or bad, of their employees and the employees’ families.

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Julio Reyes, AEP Texas vice president of external affairs, has seen an opportunity to connect the company’s already strong wellness incentive programs to their annual participation in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

The Heart Walk, held in more than 300 cities across the country, brings together companies, community walking teams, heart and stroke survivors, caregivers and people from all walks of life to raise funds and awareness for the American Heart Association in its fight against cardiovascular disease and stroke. This year is the 20th anniversary of the event in Corpus Christi, which is presented by AEP Texas, which also participates as a Heart Walk team each year.

“It’s part of our employee culture and DNA to be involved in the communities we serve,” said Reyes, who also serves as the chairman of the Heart Walk this year. “We believe the American Heart Association’s mission is critical to the lives of our employees and everyone in the Coastal Bend.”

Reyes and other local business leaders see multiple benefits in joining the Heart Walk. Not only is employee culture strengthened when groups work together toward a common cause, but it also reinforces the Heart Walk’s key message that creating a healthy lifestyle creates healthy employees – and that has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.

“Being on a Heart Walk team is fun, and we encourage everyone to contribute if they can,” Reyes said. “But more importantly, we want them to just get out, walk, take steps towards a healthier lifestyle and show their support.”

The 2016 Corpus Christi Heart Walk will be held at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Whataburger Field. This year, event leaders are aiming to raise over $325,000 toward heart research. Walkers can participate as individuals, join a team or start their own team with family, friends or neighbors. The Heart Walk is sponsored nationally by Subway, with major local support from AEP Texas.

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Erin Wilder is the executive director of the American Heart Association – Corpus Christi. For more information, or to register for the Heart Walk, visit www.corpuschristiheartwalk.org or call the American Heart Association at 361-445-3190.

Photos courtesy of the American Heart Association – Corpus Christi

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