Why We Go Red
by Loree Dowse | February 2017
Loree’s note: I was honored to give today’s blog reigns over to our CEO, Lorri Koster. Mann Packing has been a supporter of the American Heart Association for a long time, for a very personal reason. For us, February – Heart Month – is a time to focus on our health, our families, and all the things we have to live for. The AHA’s motto is “Life is Why.” So grab a tissue, and read about our “Why.”
The embers in the beach bonfires were fading to black; red, white and blue tissue paper decorations being taken off the wagons and bikes; leftover potato salad, watermelon and barbecue chicken wrapped up and put in the fridge. People were returning to work, kids to their day camps and the regular rhythm of summer life. 2005’s Fourth of July—that’s a wrap.
Joe Nucci, then the CEO of Mann Packing, along with his wife Debbie and two young boys, Matthew and Michael, were packing their suitcases to embark on what would be their first Disney cruise vacation. I recall warmly now the time Joe stuck his head into my cubicle a few months before exuberating, “Hey, Lor, I’m going on a cruise!” My name for him was never Lorri….it was always “Lor.” You could feel his excitement—he had a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t wait to take his family on the vacation of a lifetime.
It was July 6, 2005, when I got that late night phone call no one ever wants to get. My brother Joe had a heart attack while sleeping with his family in an Orlando hotel. He was just 40 years old. Joe was not overweight, he did not smoke, he worked out about three times a week. Sure, his job was not stress free, but there were no signs that a fatal heart attack was brewing inside of him.
Heart disease is the number one killer in America. Yet no one is telling us to go out and get echo cardiograms the way we are told to get mammograms and colonoscopies. Why? If my brother had an echo the valve issues in his heart would have been detected and could have been repaired. A family and employees at this company could have been spared tremendous sorrow.
After my brother died I had an echo cardiogram done—but even with my family history of heart disease—I had to pay for it out of pocket. That’s why all of us at Mann Packing dedicate ourselves to supporting the American Heart Association to fund research and raise awareness about prevention and how to detect if you may have a heart health issue. Echo cardiograms should be as accessible and recommended as other preventative screenings.
Time has faded the more painful memories of losing Joe. We will always remember him—but now we honor him through action. We honor Joe by participating in February Heart Health activities. We wear RED on Go Red Day. We participate in the Together With Love Run. Last year we had a company-wide health campaign called “Know Your Numbers” where we brought in the Visiting Nurses Association to do blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, blood work and other screenings. We had over 200 employees participate and many of them were shocked at what their numbers revealed. Five had to be taken directly to the hospital. I’m happy to report they are all on a healthy road to recovery.
We sell our fresh veggies to employees for “a buck a bag.” We provide a free gym for our employees along with personal training, circuit classes, Zumba (my current favorite) and Pilates (not to mention the ping pong table in the Broccolini® Café which sees plenty of action thro
ughout the day. We have a company-wide tournament scheduled in March).
I miss my big brother….all of us at Mann miss Joe…but living our lives to the fullest is the best way we can remember and honor him. Not just in February, but every day.
This Valentine’s Day take a minute to get to know your heart better. Do you know your numbers? Are you living your life to the fullest? If not for you, for those you love? Do it for yourself—do it for Joe.