Karen Magee was a teenager when her father had his first heart attack. He was only 37.
On Saturday, June 11, the NYSUT president will honor her father when she leads the Capital Region Heart Walk at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. She’ll also be working to build a better future for generations to come – of the utmost important to her as a teacher.
“I was in 11th grade when my father had a heart attack,” Magee said. “That changes everything. Our family changed the way we ate; we grilled and baked our food instead of frying it. My father stopped smoking.”
NYSUT has also embraced healthier living as the 600,000-member union prepares for the Heart Walk their president is chairing.
“We’ve had weekly and monthly challenges and tons of initiatives for employees, like taking the stairs, hosting Weight Watchers meetings, and blood pressure screenings,” Magee said. “During American Heart Month, we provided heart healthy tips to everyone, put up red lights, and sent out daily tweets about heart health.”
Magee has worked with an executive leadership team made up of union and corporate leaders from the Capital Region. “We meet regularly, and invite someone affected by heart disease or stroke to attend, so that we see the faces of these diseases,” Magee said. “We’ve got a great blend of people, and we’ve come up with terrific fundraising ideas.”
Magee said the American Heart Association was instrumental in her father’s recovery, and she was glad to be at the September 2015 Board of Regents meeting when the CPR in Schools law was put into effect in New York.
“There’s a parallel education piece that will change lives,” Magee said of the American Heart Association. “Changing health habits early, and getting programs like CPR and Jump Rope for Heart into schools will change lives. I’m a teacher, so educating and raising awareness about what can be done to create healthier lives is critical. The impact will be felt for generations to come.”
Magee has been president of NYSUT for two years, and a member for more than 30. She taught elementary school – general, special education, and fifth grade – in Purchase, New York. She grew up in West Harrison and raised her children there.
Magee’s father lived 35 years after his first heart attack, and died three years ago at the age of 72. Magee’s family – mother, siblings and her own children – will join her at the Capital Region Heart Walk to honor him, and help create a healthier future for all.
“We are so fortunate to have Karen Magee chair the Capital Region Heart Walk,” said Barbara Hess, chief administrative officer at SEFCU and chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association. “She is a lifelong educator and the Heart Walk is a great opportunity to teach people about heart disease and stroke, and more important, preventing it. She is already doing a great job of fundraising, which means that more American Heart Association programs to fight and prevent heart disease and stroke can be funded. It’s going to be a great walk.”
To join the Heart Walk, go to CapitalRegionHeartWalk.org and sign up. Or, call 518.626.8757 or 518.626.8754.