(Vernon, NY – May 30, 2013)  On Wednesday, the American Heart Association held a brand new event focused on keeping people healthy at work. The Mohawk Valley’s first-ever Fit-Friendly Worksite Wellness Symposium brought together local companies and health experts to discuss the best ways to help both employees and the bottom line.

Nearly 65 people representing more than 30 companies gathered at the Vernon Downs Casino Hotel for the event. The morning featured a heart-healthy breakfast, networking opportunities, expert speakers, and a Worksite Wellness Expert Panel Forum sponsored by Gilroy, Kernan & Kilroy Insurance.

The morning’s first speaker, Pat Salzer, RD, Health and Wellness Consultant with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, spoke about nutrition with healthy snack options. “You can’t just wait for nutrition to happen.” Salzer said, “You have to make it happen. Set goals and plan ahead.”

The second speaker, Jack Kunkel, President, JK Revolutionary Wellness, educated the crowd on how to change the wellness culture at the workplace. “Employees need to know that they have the power to change,” Kunkel said, “and that change is the only option.”

The Worksite Wellness panel featured representatives from diverse companies who have all had successes in implementing a culture of worksite wellness. Panel members shared success stories and advice for implementing wellness programs at other companies.

The American Heart Association also presented awards to the companies recognized in the Fit-Friendly Worksites program. Fit-Friendly Worksites are recognized by the American Heart Association as employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health and the company’s wellness programs. Right now, nearly 16,000 Utica-area residents are working for Fit-Friendly designated companies.

For more information about the Fit-Friendly program or ways to improve worksite wellness, please contact the American Heart Association at (315) 266-5403 or email

By martha

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