Joseph Long, Client/Server Support Analyst Information Technology at Utica National Insurance Group, is the Lifestyle Change Award winner of the 2023 America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. AmeriCU Credit Union sponsors the Lifestyle Change Award.
Buddie DeRucher, BSN, health and wellness coordinator at Utica National Insurance Group, and board member of the American Heart Association in the Mohawk Valley, nominated his coworker for the award.
“Joe has inspired others to be healthier, both by example and by urging people to exercise and be healthier,” DeRucher wrote in his nomination form. “He jogs 7 to 10 miles a day, and before this, didn’t exercise at all. He tailored his diet to eat more healthy food, which resulted in lower cholesterol. He has lost weight, increasing his cardiac health and lowering his blood pressure. He’s been featured in internal communications at Utica National, and has won several awards for the races he’s been in. Plus, he’s an all-around great guy.”
“I had gained a substantial amount of weight which prevented me from doing much of anything without getting extremely winded,” Long, who lives in New Hartford, said. “I knew I had to do something because I was cutting years off my life. I lost my mother to heart disease complications 15 years ago and I wanted to try and avoid that same fate. For the first time in my life, I realized that I had the power to help myself to get and stay healthy. Genetics plays a part, but we have the ability to slow if not stop some bad things from happening.”
Running became part of Long’s life after joining a “Biggest Loser”- style contest at work, which jump-started his weight loss. He had always been a runner, but had fallen out of the habit. After the program at work began, one of his daughters invited him to run the Boilermaker with her.
“It was always a wish of mine to run this race with both of my girls and after having already had run it with my older daughter many years before, I felt confident that I could fulfill that wish,” Long said. “I am now a runner for life; you can even say that I’m addicted to it. Running has given me the ability to keep excess weight off and keep some of life’s stressors at bay.”
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the American Heart Association to present this award to Joseph Long. His dedication to improving his health and inspiring others is truly commendable,” says Andrea MacDiarmid, Manager of Community and Public Relations at AmeriCU. “We are proud to support him in his remarkable journey to pursue wellness and congratulate him on his well-deserved recognition.”
Long received the award at AmeriCU Credit Union on Wednesday, July 19. The award is usually presented at America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk, but Long had been unable to attend the June 17 event.