Why We Walk the Walk

Why We Walk the Walk

Thousands of KP employees and physicians will soon lace up their sneakers in support of research and programs to prevent heart disease and stroke. (Pictured above: Heart Walk captains Mark Mangrai and Maria-Elena Camilon.)

By Dolores Radding

Mark Mangrai has many reasons for taking part in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

All of them are compelling.

To begin with, the regulatory consultant for Kaiser Permanente’s Health Plan Regulatory Services lost his dad to heart disease.

“He had congestive heart failure, and he died of a heart attack at 59. Since then I’ve lost two close friends to heart disease before they were even 50,” he explained.

And now at 51 years old, Mangrai himself has been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.

“Heart disease has touched me personally, and I think it will touch most people sometime in their lives.”

For the past seven years, Mangrai has joined colleague and senior consultant Maria-Elena Camilon as co-captain of their floor’s downtown Oakland Heart Walk team, which usually numbers about 60 people. Camilon’s father died of a stroke and her mother wears a pacemaker. So, she too is passionate about raising awareness and money to prevent heart disease.

“Most of the money raised goes to education and research,” she said. “KP is a top fundraiser because preventing heart disease is in our own hearts.”

The Kaiser Permanente Team at the 2014 Sacramento Heart Walk

The Kaiser Permanente Team at the 2014 Sacramento Heart Walk

‘Makes You Proud to Be Part of KP’

Last year, more than 3,900 KP employees and physicians took part in Heart Walks across Northern California — raising more than $305,000.

KP NCAL’s chief operating officer and executive sponsor for the Heart Walk, Janet Liang, said KP is a longtime partner of the AHA because of a shared commitment to education, prevention, and early detection of heart disease.

“These walks are a great opportunity for people to get moving and have fun, while at the same time promoting healthy living messages to the broader community.”

This year, KP employees and physicians will walk in 14 Heart Walks across the region — from Roseville in the North to Milpitas in the South. KP NCAL Community Relations Specialist Amanda Medina said the walks are one of the region’s top events when it comes to employee fundraising and participation.

“Our employees get excited about these walks because heart disease affects so many people,” she said. “There’s also a camaraderie within Heart Walk teams, and some healthy competition between the teams. People just want to be a part of it.”

Camilon, who has taken part in the walk since 2002, said she can’t imagine not being a part of it.

“I love seeing the flood of KP T-shirts on the day of the walk. There are so many people walking — it just makes you proud to be part of KP.”