Central MA Heart & Stroke Walk goes virtual, two local community members to receive awards

With the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic keeping more Americans at home, the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health, is embracing the new normal and moving its iconic Heart Walk online.


On June 20th, Heart Walk participants and teams will not physically meet but are invited to get moving at home or around the neighborhood. To register and fundraise, visit CentralMAHeartWalk.org. From there, participants can stay up to date by downloading the Heart Walk mobile app and encourage friends and family to join in via e-mail or on social media. A special kickoff will be held at 9 AM on Facebook (@AmericanHeartMA – go to Events and mark yourself as “going”) hosted by WXLO FM’s Jen Carter.


Jay Cyr, Senior Vice President of Surgical and Procedural Services at UMass Memorial Medical Center, is the chair of the Central MA VIRTUAL Heart & Stroke Walk. Cyr and his committee hope this year’s 27th annual event will be a fun and meaningful way to celebrate heart and stroke survivors, raise lifesaving funds and encourage physical activity.


“Now, more than ever, we’re all looking for ways to connect with others, stay active and stay encouraged,” said Cyr. “This virtual format allows everyone to continue to have fun and support the Association’s lifesaving mission, while adapting to spending more time at home. We are grateful for the support from our community and can’t wait to see how everyone makes the Heart Walk their own.”


The Association will recognize two community members for their lifesaving efforts and work with the Association with a video presentation of the EMS Provider of the Year and the Heart Hero awards at the virtual Heart & Stroke Walk.

Michael Hunter, Deputy Chief for Worcester EMS at UMass Memorial Medical Center’s University Campus in Worcester, will receive the 2020 EMS Provider of the Year Award. Michael has been a valuable partner with the Association on Hands-Only CPR and AED awareness campaigns.  “Michael has worked tirelessly and selflessly to improve regional cardiac arrest care. Especially within the City of Worcester, he started an AED registry so that 911 operators know where the nearest AED is located to help callers for cardiac arrests save lives in our region,” said Joseph Sabato, Medical Director with UMass Memorial Medical Center.


The 2020 Heart Hero Award will be presented to Nancy Hagberg, FNP, a pediatric cardiology nurse practitioner with MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Worcester. Regarded as a caring and compassionate clinician, Nancy specializes in the management of pediatric risk factors for heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease, such as hypertension, high cholesterol and weight control issues. Nancy is a past Chair and long-time, active member of the Association’s Central MA Board of Directors. She has supported local, regional and national Association initiatives through active participation as a nurse, advocate, and educator.  Nancy is also a founding member, past president and program chairperson for the Northeast Pediatric Cardiology Nurses Association, a nationally recognized provider of educational programs in pediatric cardiovascular nursing.


Event sponsors include: UMass Memorial Medical Center; Saint Vincent Hospital; Commerce Bank, a division of Berkshire Bank; Vibra Hospital of Western Massachusetts/The Meadows of Central MA; The Hermitage Center; and Reliant Medical Group. Media sponsor is WXLO FM.


The Central Massachusetts Heart and Stroke Walk raises funds to save lives from this country’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers – heart disease and stroke.  “The American Heart Association’s research and education help people to learn CPR, to know the warning signs of heart attack and stroke, and to live a healthier lifestyle,” said Cyr. “All of this work helps to create a heart-healthy community. This event will allow everyone in Central Massachusetts a chance to get involved and to be a heart hero!”


Visit Heart.org/Massachusetts to learn more.