As the page turns on a new year, it’s natural to use this time to make a fresh start focusing on wellness and living a healthier life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for men, women, and most ethnic and racial groups in the United States, with one person dying every 36 seconds from cardiovascular illness. Just as a car is only as good as the upkeep and maintenance of its engine, it’s important to consider the health of your body’s engine as residents look to turn over a new leaf on wellness and we head into American Heart Month in February.
Without missing a beat, staff members at the McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation offered their personal thoughts on why heart health is important and gave advice on how they are staying heart healthy in 2022 as a way to motivate and pump you up to improved well-being.
Courtney Silverthorn, philanthropy officer for the McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation, said she puts a priority on her heart health for her family, ensuring she doesn’t miss a moment of time with her two young sons. In fact, her children — in their own way — actually help their mom on her wellness goals. “I stay active by taking daily walks with my dog, Blue, and by trying to keep up with my two energetic kiddos,” Silverthorn said. “I also try to be conscious of the foods I’m eating and make sure to incorporate lots of heart healthy foods.”
Foundation Vice President Lynn Griffor once considered heart disease to be a men’s issue before discovering it is also the leading cause of death for women. The epiphany helped Griffor hone in on lifestyle changes. “Exercise is where I focus my energy. I love my Peloton,” she said. “I also do weight training three times per week. I have recently made changes to my diet that include eating more whole grains and reducing dairy — although I do love cheese.”
Rachel Turek, special events coordinator for the foundation, said her family’s history of heart disease helped her understand the risk. Her personal commitment to staying heart healthy includes “regular checkups with my doctor, eating a colorful diet, yoga and chasing toddlers.”
Marketing Specialist Mollie Bort also cited previous family health scares and making sure she’s around for her family as long as possible as reasons she maintains her personal wellness. “To stay heart healthy, I try to fit activity in my normal day through things like playing with my kids and taking the stairs, as well as taking the time to make specific activate choices like walking a few days a week while listening to an audio book,” Bort said.
Shelly Houston, director of philanthropy, said she puts an emphasis on heart health to live her best life as well as provide the best life for a number of four-legged friends. “The longer I live, the more dogs I can rescue. My dog and I go for 1½- to 2-mile walks three times a day,” she said, adding that she reduces her stress level with humor and prayer. “For the new year, my goal is to get more sleep.”
Personal loss contributes to the importance of heart health for Nicole Hankwitz, the foundation’s major gifts officer. Hankwitz’s grandfather passed away from a heart attack when she was 7 years old. Now with kids of her own, she said she intends to stay with them as long as possible. “Before kids, exercise and physical activity were very important to me,” Hankwitz said. “These days you’ll find me on my exercise bike after 8 p.m., when the kids are asleep, four days a week. During the summers, McLaren Greater Lansing has a McLaren Mile challenge around the hospital. The foundation has a team, so we try to walk the mile as much as we can in between raising funds.”
Many people in the Greater Lansing community relate to these same motivations for being heart healthy. The foundation has a number of donors who regularly give toward McLaren’s cardiovascular department because they want to ensure the hospital has the best doctors, technology and treatments for their friends, family and community.
We work with individuals to find ways to help them support the health care initiatives they’re passionate about. Whether you want to contribute time, money or an unconventional gift to the foundation, hospital and community, we will make it work to help you reach your goals.
McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation’s mission is to support the work of McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital to be the region’s leading health care innovator — and that includes the hospital’s goal of bringing education and training local residents to improve the community’s overall health. The foundation puts donations to work on higher-quality health care and better health care outcomes for all.
To learn more about the MGL Foundation or to give toward cardiovascular initiatives or something else, visit mglcampaignforcare.org.