BY SARAH FEDELE, American Heart Association
Calling all Forsyth County residents! The American Heart Association is looking to recognize people in Forsyth County who have made changes to improve their health, increasing their quality of life and reducing their risk factors for heart disease and stroke. We want to hear your inspiring stories so we can applaud these efforts and motivate others to make similar changes.
“Most heart disease and stroke-related deaths are largely preventable by making heart-healthy lifestyle changes, knowing your vital health numbers and managing your personal risk factors. Even if you have a family history of heart disease or stroke, what you do today can make a huge difference in preventing cardiovascular disease and ensuring a longer, healthier life,” shared David Zhao, M.D., chief of cardiovascular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine and executive director of the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Heart and Vascular Center.
Check out just a few of these amazing Forsyth County Lifestyle Change Award past recipients!
L to R: Tristan Long with father Kelly Long during Heart Walk
Kelly Long, owner of Kelly’s Bars and Grilles in Winston-Salem, was recognized as the 2017 Adult Lifestyle Change Award winner. Kelly was diagnosed with high blood pressure when he was 17 years old. Over the years, he went to his doctor regularly and took medication to try and manage his blood pressure. In May of 2017, Kelly had a heart attack and five stents implanted. Even before he left the hospital, Kelly began his journey of improving his health. He started eating healthier and walking. Kelly has lost over 30 lbs since his heart attack and has completed his first 5K!
NaTasha Glaspy from the Walk Stage (L to R: Lora Songster, Kenny Beck & NaTasha Glaspy)
NaTasha Glaspy was named the 2016 Lifestyle Change Award winner. NaTasha had been fighting with polycystic ovary syndrome, weight loss, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. In 2015, she joined the YMCA and began exercise classes. She also worked with a trainer and took a nutrition class on how to eat healthier and make better food choices. She has lost 165 lbs.! Her A1C is down to 5.0, she is off all blood pressure medication and is no longer diabetic. She also became a Zumba instructor and has shared her story in weight loss classes to help inspire others. NaTasha works at MedCost in Winston-Salem and has shared her health journey story nationally!
L to R: Amy Thornton with daughter Hannah Thornton
When Amy Thornton first began walking, she could walk less than half a mile. Now she exercises up to 90 minutes per day. She went from eating fast food to a low fat, low carb, high protein diet. Amy has lost over 167 lbs and has done it the healthy way. She went from having high blood pressure and high cholesterol to not having to be on any medications, with her blood pressure and cholesterol numbers in the normal range, and she even quit smoking! Amy decided to break the cycle of her family history of weight issues and heart disease. She has inspired and influenced her family, friends and past co-workers to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes. Amy continued to inspire others as the American Heart Association’s Winston-Salem 2014 Lifestyle Change Award Honorable Mention.
In 2008, Gregory Martin of Winston-Salem was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and liver disease. At that time, Greg weighed nearly 400 pounds. He started walking just to the end of his driveway and back again. In 2012, Gregory went to the William G. White Family YMCA and signed up for whatever he thought he might be able to do. He also started walking around the inside track at the YMCA. All he could do at first was one lap. It took him one month to walk his first mile and in just two and a half months, he had walked his 100th mile! Now, Gregory walks three miles every day and has lost more than 100 pounds. His doctor was thrilled at how his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers were falling. Greg even started his own Healthy Heart Walkers Club at the William G. White Family YMCA. Gregory Martin was celebrated as the American Heart Association’s 2014 Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk’s Lifestyle Change Award.
Nominations for the Lifestyle Change Award, sponsored by Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, can be submitted by friends, co-workers or relatives, and individuals can nominate themselves. The deadline for Lifestyle Change Award nominations is November 8, 2021.
To nominate yourself or someone in your life, visit www.heart.org/Triad to complete the online form. If you would like to submit a photo to accompany the nomination, please email your photo to TriadNC@heart.org.
The individuals who have made the most significant changes to their lifestyle will be honored at the Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk Awards Ceremony on November 18, 2021.
The Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk is coming to Winston-Salem on Sunday, October 17. With COVID-19 safety precautions in place, the American Heart Association, with Healthy for Good Sponsors MedCost and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Forsyth County Life is Why Sponsor Novant Health, encourages everyone to get walking – you can walk here, there or anywhere! Visit www.winstonsalemheartwalk.org to register today and find out all the details.