Joel Chernek was shoveling snow three years ago when he suddenly had difficulty breathing.
He thought he needed to increase his blood pressure medication dosage, but that didn’t help. A trip to the doctor the next day revealed he would need a stent to open a blocked artery to his heart.
“I was 92 percent blocked in one artery,” said Chernek, 65, of Worcester. “Now I’m eating better and exercising more. I’m lucky that it worked out.”
Chernek was one of nearly 1,000 Staples employees who took part in a Heart Walk at the company’s Framingham headquarters on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The event raised more than $15,000 for the American Heart Association, which aims to fight cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Last year, about 50 Staples employees participated in the American Heart Association’s Boston Heart Walk. Looking to increase participation this year, Staples suggested holding its own Heart Walk on its campus.
The move paid off.
“If you make it easy for people to participate, they’ll participate in droves,” said John Burke, Staples’ chief cultural officer. “We’re all about taking care of our associates, and healthy minds and bodies are an important thing.”
Burke, 65, of Milton, said Staples has been trying to emphasize healthy eating and exercise amongst its workforce. The Heart Walk took place on the one-year anniversary of the opening of a fitness center at the Framingham campus.
Gale McKenzie, 60, of Upton, was one of the employees who took a couple of hours out of work on Tuesday afternoon to participate in the walk. She watched her father suffer a non-fatal heart attack when she was a child and has understood the importance of nutrition and exercise since.
“Since then we were very cognizant of how we lived,” she said, “and that’s why I did this.”