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Published on March 06, 2014

Straight from the Heart

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System employees recently stated:

“I am an advocate for better health...”
“I have been a nurse for 20 years and have seen the impact of heart disease on my patient’s lives...”
“I want to walk in my dad’s honor...”
“I hope to help others by education and to eventually stomp out heart disease...” 

Nothing is more powerful than a story from the heart. With cardiovascular disease being the number one killer of all Americans (including women) and stroke being the number 4 killer, it is no coincidence that a team of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) employees are teaming together join the fight against this deadly disease, 80% of which is preventable.

With a fundraising goal of $675,000 for the American Heart Association (AHA), Tony Kouskolekas, President of Village Hospital and 2014 Upstate Heart Walk Chairman, is a long-time and ardent supporter of the AHA. 

“We want to invite our patients, our community and our employees to walk with us on Saturday, April 5th in Greer to fight against heart disease,” said Kouskolekas. “This is a personal cause for many people, as well as an opportunity for us to initiate changes in health, while having fun and raising awareness.”

The Upstate Heart Walk will take place at Greer City Park (301 East Poinsett Street) beginning at 8:30. More than 3,000 individuals from more than 100 Upstate medical, business and social communities will come together. This non-competitive, three-mile walk features teams created by employees from local companies, along with friends and family members of all ages. For more information or to register for the Upstate Heart Walk, visit or call the American Heart Association at 627-4158.

Our Employees: Hear their Stories

“This cause is personal to me because I am an advocate for better health. I hope the funds raised will create a greater awareness of heart disease amongst women. I have been personally been affected because I lost a very athletic male cousin at the age of 16 due to an unknown heart condition. I also had a female relative who had Mitral Valve Replacement surgery this year.”

-Patricia Whitmire


“I have been a nurse for 20 years and have seen the impact of heart disease on my patient’s lives. There are some factors, like genetics and age that we cannot change; however, there are many modifiable risk factors that we can each have an impact on. Exercise, diet, being a non-smoker, and decreasing stress can save lives. I am also a CPR instructor and believe in the AHA mission. We have made great strides in the treatment of heart disease during my 20 year career. I have tangibly seen the change and I would like to contribute to that ongoing success. Personally, my grandfather had a quadruple bypass and my mother has atrial fibrillation. I am the only child in my family without high cholesterol. We are all striving daily to become more healthy, exercise and eat a healthy diet.”

-Juliet Brandau, RN, MSN

“My dad had a heart attack and later had open heart surgery. After his surgery he developed COPD and after that it was a downhill battle. My dad passed away two Christmas's ago. I want to walk and support the AHA in my dad's honor. Those who knew him know what a wonderful and kind person he was. WOW, what a HEART he had! Imagine the impact if we reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020! I’m joining the American Heart Association's Heart Walk to promote physical activity to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Please support us in helping to reach this lifesaving goal by donating today! Thanks in advance for your support. Please come walk to honor my dad and your loved ones who have been impacted by heart disease and stroke.”
-Cindy Tucker-Hipps

“My mother (85) has heart and circulatory problems. A pacemaker was inserted last spring. I hope to help others through education and eventually by stomping out heart disease. The time and effort my whole family (brother and sister) has put in to this will make sure she is well taken care of.”

-Sam Kleckley, Manager Food and Nutrition Services


7 Amazing Things Donors Have Made Possible in the Past:
(Information provided by American Heart Association)


Helped Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Deaths by 8.8 Percent Since 2007

  • Helping millions of Americans live longer, healthier lives

Helped Reduce Stroke Deaths by 10 Percent Since 2007

  • Giving millions of Americans more precious time with loved ones

Funded nearly 1,000 Cardiovascular Research Projects in the 2012-13 fiscal year

  • Making us the top funder of cardiovascular research outside the federal government

Supported more than 175 Teaching Gardens

  • Teaching Healthy eating habits to roughly 80,000 students and counties more parents and siblings

 Trained 13.6 Million Americans 2012-13

  • Equipping them in CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular life support

Passed Student CPR Bills in 11 States

  • Requiring CPR training for students before high school graduation

Implemented “Get With The Guidelines” in more than 2,000 Hospitals

  • Dramatically improving outcomes in heart disease and stroke

For more information or to schedule an interview with an employee on their personal story or Tony Kouskolekas about the upcoming Heart Walk and the impact it will have on the Upstate, please contact the media pager at 253-7561.

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