What do a former motorcycle dealership owner and MBA candidate, a marine scientist, and an emergency management consultant have in common?
While their day jobs might be vastly different, they are all volunteer firefighters who have just been named the winners of the first Search for Cardioviva™ Heart Health Champions contest.
Heart attacks account for more than half of on-duty firefighter deaths. To encourage exercise, a nutritious diet, and other healthy behaviors among firefighters, Cardioviva™, the first natural probiotic clinically proven to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels in adults, teamed up with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) to conduct a nationwide search for three heart health champions.
The search puts the spotlight on firefighters who are not only taking care of their own health, but who are also motivating their brethren and communities to live healthier lifestyles.
The winners will receive a combined total of $30,000 in cash and prizes so that they can continue their efforts and educate emergency responders ? and the communities they serve ? on how they can proactively protect themselves against heart disease.
After a nationwide search and public voting to narrow the field down to the top 10 finalists, a panel of judges consisting of heart health, fire, and nutrition/fitness experts selected the following three winners:
Grand Prize Winner: Peggy Smith, Coolin-Cavanaugh Bay Fire Company, Coolin, Idaho
Peggy is the chief of her firehouse in the rural Idaho resort town of Coolin, about 25 miles from the Canadian border. Also known as the Priest Lake area, Coolin has a year-round population of 350, but can soar as high as 25,000 during peak tourist times.
Peggy started volunteering after a harrowing experience spending a long, cold winter night out on a mountain with her husband after he broke his leg. After this incident, Peggy made it her mission to volunteer and give back to the community.
She created a back country snowmobile rescue team, and was then recruited to be part of the volunteer fire department. Under her leadership as Chief for the last three years, the department has grown from three members to 35.
As Peggy began to take on more of the administrative side of her duties while studying for her MBA and taking the exclusive National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program, she became more sedentary.
Her weight and cholesterol numbers skyrocketed. She wanted to improve her own health and also motivate the other volunteers to maintain their health so they would be less prone to injury.
Peggy and her team began a wellness program, which includes group exercise classes with an instructor four times a week, with nutrition counseling available on request.
“As part of winning the Search for Cardioviva™ Heart Health Champions contest, I want our fire department to be a healthy example for other emergency responders as well as consumers,” said Peggy. “By showing how I am tackling my own weight and cholesterol issues by eating healthfully and exercising regularly, I hope to be a positive role model and inspire others to reduce their risk of heart disease.”
As the grand prize winner, Peggy’s firehouse will receive $10,000 in cash, plus donated TRX FORCE kits and additional exercise equipment (valued at $5,000), as well as a nutrition and fitness makeover with Chris Mohr, RD, PhD, a nationally-known sports nutritionist.