Newton company pedals against stroke at CycleNation event

Mike Cotoia says TechTarget’s employees have a “work hard, play hard” attitude. So, when the American Stroke Association approached him about hosting a CycleNation event at the company’s Newton headquarters, it seemed like a natural fit.

“When you tell them, ‘Hey, you can have a little fun, a little competition, a little exercise and raise some money for a great cause,’ you typically don’t have to ask them twice,” said Cotoia, TechTarget’s CEO.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, the American Stroke Association (a division of the American Heart Association) brought 25 stationary bikes to TechTarget to host a CycleNation event for employees of the marketing and sales service company. At the end of the workday, more than 80 people were led through several fun and energetic rides.

More than 80 employees at TechTarget took part in CycleNation at the company’s Newton headquarters.

CycleNation empowers millennials and other community members across the country to use road and stationary bikes to get brain and heart healthy. Funds raised are used for stroke, heart and brain-centric research, prevention and advocacy, as well as educating the community – especially those who are at highest risk of stroke – how to live healthier lives.

TechTarget raised nearly $35,000 for this mission.

Jay Blackwell, executive director for the American Heart Association in Boston, said he would love to see more companies join TechTarget in hosting CycleNation events at their offices.

“Cycling is not only fun, it’s a way to look good and feel good,” said Blackwell. “Whether it be on the road or on a stationary bike, we’re cycling towards solving brain and heart health, literally and figuratively.”

Nancy Ruggieri, owner and lead instructor at CycleBar Wellesley, which donated all the bikes for the event, called TechTarget “a fun group.”

“They were great to hang with,” she said. “Once the music started, they were really into it. I was impressed.”

Nancy Ruggieri, owner and lead instructor at CycleBar Wellesley, leads TechTarget employees through a workout.

Stroke continues to be a leading cause of debilitating disease in the U.S., and it is the No. 2 cause of death in the world. Stroke affects nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. every year. That’s more than the entire population of Boston.

The good news is that 80 percent of strokes are preventable. CycleNation was formed to ensure that fewer patients and their families will suffer from this largely preventable disease, and if a stroke does occur more people will know how to respond to preserve their loved one’s quality of life.

Cotoia understands the mission of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association firsthand. After having a cardiac ablation several years ago to address an irregular heart rhythm, he volunteered to co-chair the 2018 Boston Heart Walk. The event drew nearly 10,000 walkers to the Charles River Esplanade and raised more than $1 million to improve the health of Greater Boston.

Two TechTarget employees encourage each other before the start of a CycleNation heat.

Cotoia has also worked to bring a culture of health to TechTarget. He said CycleNation fits perfectly into his approach to fostering a healthy work environment.

“I would recommend any company that wants to do a great service for their employees to get engaged with the American Stroke Association and CycleNation,” said Cotoia. “You can have fun, you can get some exercise, and you can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.”

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