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Houston-based NCI Building Systems will sponsor the 2012 American Heart Association (AHA) Northwest Harris County Heart Walk, taking place Saturday, Nov. 3 at Lone Star College-Cy Fair. Opening ceremonies start at 8:30 a.m. before the crowd of more than 2,000 participates in the non-competitive, 3-mile walk.

The event will raise funds, but event organizers have a primary goal to raise awareness about heart disease. Brad Robeson, President of the NCI Buildings division, said that he’s been increasingly focused on employee health and wellness, and hopes the partnership with the AHA will spread awareness within his company and his community about the potentially fatal disease.

“In today’s busy, convenience-minded society, it is easy to dismiss healthy living as something we simply do not have time for, but the reality is that nothing is more important than the health and well-being of yourself and the people in your life,” said Robeson, who serves as event chair for the 2012 Heart Walk. “The Heart Walk unites and inspires us to take control of our health. I encourage the members of our Northwest business and residential communities to join us for this important cause.”

NCI Building Systems and the AHA are pleased to welcome Rachel McNeill, news anchor with KPRC Local 2, as the event’s emcee. McNeill actually hails from Northwest Harris County and graduated from Cypress Creek High School before becoming a broadcast journalist and joining KPRC in 2001.

Robeson hopes to see the Heart Walk become a rallying point for all businesses throughout Northwest Harris County, citing the direct correlation between a healthy workforce and a healthy business, overall.  As reflected in recent news coverage, healthcare expenses have become a leading concern for American businesses, and according to Businessweek, heart disease alone costs U.S. employers close to $200 billion, annually, and that figure is on the rise.

Support of the Heart Walk is part of an overall effort by NCI to take its focus on health to a new level in 2012, including the introduction of a new health and wellness initiative, Vitality 24/7, the sole purpose of which is to provide employees and their families with tools to improve their quality of life by taking steps to improve their overall health.

The AHA’s annual “My Heart. My Life.” Heart Walk is a family-friendly event which promotes physical activity as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle and raises funds for research, education and awareness programs to fight heart disease and stroke – the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, respectively.  The 2012 Northwest Harris County Heart Walk will feature the AmeriHeart, a walk-through exhibit of the human heart.  The life-size educational tool is meant to help children and adults better understand how the heart functions and identify the markers of heart disease. Event organizers seek to raise $285,000 through the walk and recruit more than 40 businesses in Northwest Harris County to participate and launch AHA employee wellness programs within their organizations.

For more information on the Northwest Harris County Heart Walk, visit nwharrisheartwalk.org