Retired library director, chief of cardiology part of 5K training program

Gail, left, and Dr. Joe Sacco before one of the training sessions for the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good 5K Training program.

Everyone in the Healthy For Good 5K Training Program had their own reason for wanting to run the 5K in the Sunday, June 2, Capital Region Heart Walk and Run. Spouses Gail and Dr. Joe Sacco shared their thoughts about being part of the group.

“I’ve always been active, but never considered myself athletic,” Gail Sacco, 65, retired director of the Voorheesville Public Library, a breast cancer survivor and Type 1 diabetic, said. “I was curious about running, but wasn’t sure I could. I am getting older but I don’t want to be ‘old.’ I want to walk straight and tall, have flexibility and balance, and feel well. Exercise is the magic bullet for that result. I was inspired by my friend who did her first 5k last year so I thought I would try this run. I have a strong commitment to the American Heart Association and this training program has been the best!”

“I’d been away from regular exercise during the last year and was looking for a routine to get back into shape,” Dr. Sacco said. He is chief of cardiology at the Albany Stratton VA hospital, professor at Albany Med, and former president and longtime member of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. “Gail heard about the Heart Association’s Healthy For Good 5K program, and it sounded like a great way to get back into a routine–even with the daunting challenge of starting a true ‘couch to 5K’ running program at my age. I knew Gail would keep me honest and motivated to stick with the training. Since I’ve been active with the Heart Association for many years, using the training program to fundraise also seemed like another way to add both fun and extra motivation to complete the program. My goal is not to be fast, but be able to actually run the whole 5K.”

“When I started, I could hardly run for 3 minutes,” Gail Sacco said. “Now I can now run 3 miles and my goal is to run the entire 5k on June 2.”

Both Saccos had high praise for the coaches and mentors of the 5K program. Toni Howard, department chair of education at Hudson Valley Community College, and Rosella Elliott, a stroke survivor, gathered a team of 15 mentors to train the 30 participants in the “Healthy For Good 5K Training Program.

“The support of the volunteer coaches and mentors have made this training program the best,” Gail Sacco said.

“Training together with the coaches, mentors and other runners has been a great way to share the experience, learn good running technique, and help cheer each other on,” Joe Sacco said. “It’s remarkable how far we’ve come since those first exhausting–SHORT–and COLD days in the program and we are both looking forward to the big day. I look forward to saying I did it!

There’s still time to be part of the Heart Walk and Run on Sunday! Visit to see how.