Seeking 12 Capital Region women to improve their heart health

Jenniffer Snyder Wright remembers watching the 2016 BetterU class at that year’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, and telling her employer, Andrea Crisafulli, who had invited her to the Luncheon, that she needed to be part of the American Heart Association’s 12-week heart-health improvement program for women.


On Thursday, January 3, at CAP COM FEDERAL Credit Union in Albany,  Wright shared her story of being in the 2017 BetterU class. As she participated in the program, her headaches went away, and swelling in her body decreased. She also gave up what she described as a “nasty daily Frappuccino habit” as part of her wellness journey. She has also become the coordinator for the newly formed BetterU alumnae group.

Wright is sharing her story as the application period for the 2019 BetterU class opens. Last year, 137 women applied. 13 were chosen. This year’s deadline to apply is January 24.

Today, Amelia Waters of the Capital District YMCA staff led exercises – demonstrated by a 2018 BetterU grad – and BetterU co-chair Maria Decker of Maria’s Catering provided healthy snacks. Ellie Wilson, senior dietitian for Price Chopper/Market 32, offered nutrition advice, and Dr. Mandeep Sidhu, cardiologist at Albany Med and immediate past president of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association, talked about how important it is for women to take care of their health.

When the 12-week program begins in late February, BetterU participants receive memberships to the Capital District YMCA, learn about nutrition and food shopping from Wilson, a senior dietitian at Price Chopper, work with a personal trainer and meet weekly for group workouts and support. They celebrate their success with hundreds of attendees at the Go Red for Women Luncheon.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with the American Heart Association and help launch the 2019 BetterU program,” said CAP COM President and CEO Paula Stopera. “BetterU offers the tools for individuals to create not only healthy lifestyle changes, but friendships and confidence to start feeling their best. The longevity of the American Heart Association’s impact is so important, and one of the reasons why CAP COM feels so strongly about getting behind their mission.”

“Core to our mission at the Y is helping individuals achieve greater health and wellness,” said Capital District YMCA President David Brown. “We’re delighted to support the efforts of our partners at the American Heart Association as we work together to transform lives through the BetterU program.”

“Women handle so much that it’s easy to lose track of your health,” said Theresa Petrone Butts, chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association, and co-chair of the BetterU subcommittee of the Go Red For Women Luncheon. “As a recent new mom, I’m seeing from a whole new perspective how we put others first, and how limited time to take care of ourselves can be. The BetterU helps health become a priority.”

“For nine years, we’ve watched a group of BetterU women improve their heart health. It is always inspiring and motivating, and I can’t wait to meet this year’s class,” said Maria Decker of Maria’s Catering, member of the Capital Region Advisory Board and co-chair of the BetterU subcommittee of the Go Red For Women Luncheon.

“It’s great to kick off the new year by making health improvements possible for a group of women,” said Dr. Mandeep Sidhu, cardiologist, dean of student research and scholarship at Albany Med, and immediate past president and member of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. “It’s up to all of us to support our mothers, sisters, friends, who are disproportionately affected by heart disease and stroke.”

“I was part of the first BetterU class,” said Kathleen Pingelski, owner of MicroKnowledge and president of ProKnowledge, and co-chair of the 2019 Go Red For Women Luncheon. “It was a powerful experience and reminded me how critical taking care of our health is. I’m thrilled to be welcoming the ninth class, and am looking forward to a great year of Go Red.”

“Since the Go Red For Women movement was founded 15 years ago, we have saved a lot of lives,” said Cindy Applebaum, market president and publisher of the Albany Business Review, and co-chair of the 2019 Go Red For Women movement. “But heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of women, and stroke is No. 5. Programs like the BetterU are helping to change that statistic. I am looking forward to meeting the women of the 2019 BetterU class.”

Neil and Jane Golub have been leaders in supporting heart health education and care for women in the Capital Region. I have the privilege of echoing that commitment by ensuring BetterU participants can implement the American Heart Association nutrition and lifestyle principles in their own lives,” said Ellie Wilson, senior dietitian at Price Chopper and Market 32. “I love sharing nutrition education and shopping strategies with participants, putting appetite and health together, and ensuring participants understand the resources and benefits available at Price Chopper Pharmacies. I am looking forward to a great program.”

Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy also spoke.

Applications for the BetterU are available at, and at locations of the Capital District YMCA.