Meet Preferred … Preferred Mutual’s America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Team Committee

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Preferred Mutual’s America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Team Committee would love to have you join the team!

Each day the team at Preferred Mutual strives to give our customers the ability to live confidently, to Live Assured. Their contributions are instrumental, their journey’s unique. Join us as we reveal these amazing stories. This week, members of Preferred Mutual’s America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Team Committee, Colleen Ackerman, Brendon Harris, Deb Harris, Pat Kukulech, Bryonna Seamon, Kelley Tripple, and Dalynn Ward, share their Heart Run & Walk story with us.

Q: Can you give us some background on the American Heart Association’s Heart Run & Walk and why Preferred Mutual formed a team?

A: The Heart Run & Walk is the American Heart Association's premier event for raising funds to save lives from this country's No. 1 and No. 5 killers — heart disease and stroke. There are several walks, but Preferred Mutual participates in America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk in Utica, New York. Look for our team on Saturday, March 3 — we hope to be more than 150 strong!

The Preferred Mutual Team was originally founded by an employee who gathered a few co-workers and friends who enjoyed running and recognized the importance of the event’s mission. Word quickly spread of the Heart Run & Walk’s impactful experience and the team began to grow exponentially. As momentum grew, a Team Committee was formed to assist the Co-Captains, Colleen Ackerman and Pat Kukulech, with fundraising and team building throughout the year. 

Q: What is it about America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk that makes you return year after year?

A: We can all agree that it is such an amazing event! Each year, thousands of people come together to raise more than $1 million to help support the fight against heart disease and stroke. We love to think that we are helping making a difference by raising funds to help save and extend lives of those we love. 

The event also resonates on a personal level to many of the committee members, such as Bryonna Seamon. A Heart Run & Walk participant for 7 years running, Bryonna explains that heart disease runs in her family and that it’s made the cause near and dear to her heart. She adds that “the event is full of so much excitement and positive energy — it’s hard to not get involved.”

Q: Why is the event and its message crucial to the community?

A: *Someone dies from heart disease, stroke or another cardiovascular disease every 43 seconds in this country. Statistics like this are staggering, yet you don’t realize how many people are impacted until the day of the event. You look around and it’s a sea of people — people who have lost loved ones, survivors, family members, supporters. This is why it is so important to raise the funds to support research and education, so that fewer people are impacted by heart disease.

Q: What is the team’s motivation for participating in the America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk?

A: This is personal for us. We lost a beloved colleague, Joe Vunk, to heart disease on January 21, 2016. He passed away unexpectedly due to heart-related complications. He was only 38 years old — a life taken too soon. He is our “why” — and we dedicate our walk to Joe’s memory. We fundraise, we walk, and we raise awareness to honor and remember Joe, and the countless other lives that are affected by heart disease.

Q: What fundraising efforts is the Preferred Mutual Team hosting for this event?

A: This year we added something new to our fundraising efforts, “flocking!” Employees can make a donation to our team in exchange for having a fellow employee’s desk or office flocked with pink flamingos. Employees are having a blast with it! We also hold an annual basket raffle and candy sale fundraiser.

Q: How can people sign up to join the Preferred Mutual’s America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk Team? If people don’t want to walk, can they donate?

A: To sign up for the Heart Run & Walk and to join Preferred Mutual’s Team, or to donate, go to: http://www2.heart.org/goto/TeamPreferred. You can also reach out to a member of the Preferred Mutual Heart Run & Walk Team Committee and we can help people register.

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like people to know Preferred Mutual’s Heart Run & Walk team?

A: We are a committed group of people who come together to have fun while supporting a great cause. Every year we’ve watched as our Heart Run & Walk Team has grown. It is amazing to work with such kind-hearted people. We’d like to thank all our co-workers, friends and family that support us throughout this event! We wouldn’t be as successful without them and their willingness to help whether it’s donating items, purchasing tickets, or whatever it takes! We are truly thankful.

We would also love to have you join our team! It’s the people that make the event special! We have participants enter every event, so you will always have a team member who has participated before and can be your best resource for event information.

*Statistics from the American Heart Association.

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