American Heart Lifestyle Change Award Presented


The American Heart Association (AHA) and Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union in Kingston presented the Lifestyle Change Award on Valentine’s Day to Deborah Garriga Stitt, from Rosendale. The AHA says that 80% of heart disease can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes, like the ones Deborah Stitt made.

Heart diseases and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death in the nation, but more than 80% of it is preventable. The American Heart Association established the Lifestyle Change Award to recognize individuals who have made significant and positive changes to improve their quality of life and overall health.

This award is presented annually to a deserving individual whether they have lost weight, started to eat better, improve their cholesterol through exercise and diet, or combination of these things and more, the recipient is chosen to inspire others to also improve their health.

“We hope that Deborah inspires others to make healthy lifestyle changes like she did, one step at a time,” said Danielle Schuka, AHA Regional Director, “She realized her health needed improving and took small but significant steps to improve her health. The results of her steadfast commitment are evident, and inspiring!”

Stitt said she decided privately to make lifestyle changes. She did what we all know we are supposed to do: eat lean meats, fresh veggies, get regular sleep, and exercise regularly. She not only lost 80 pounds in the process, but has become strong, fit and healthy.

 How did she do it? Stitt changed her eating habits completely. She cut out processed food and started eating lean meats and vegetables. When she started taking Zumba classes, progress was slow at first. Adding hiking several miles on the weekends with her husband gave her more stamina and strength. From there she increased her time at the gym, taking step classes, and high intensity training classes. She is now a regular at Kingston Athletics, challenging herself in Cross Fit.

“We were honored to present this award to Deborah and learn more about her story. She is doing exactly what we all need to do to make a diff erence in our health—making small but lasting changes for health, ourselves and our families,” said Michelle McCourt, VP Operations at Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union.

The American Heart Association helps people understand the link between health and risk for heart disease and stroke, and helps to empower people with the tools to become healthier. For more information, visit For women’s health resources to fight women’s number one killer—heart disease—visit

The AHA invites residents to attend the Heart Walk on March 24th at Marist College in Poughkeepsie to walk for their heart health while raising funds for AHA research and programs. Individuals and teams can register online at For sponsorship opportunities, contact or call 845-867-5379. Find inspiration to live a healthy life on Facebook with the hashtag #GoRedGetFit.

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