“Giving” Section of The Desert Sun
Volunteer Profile – Tom Scaramellino
American Heart Association
Tom Scaramellino leads with his heart at Westin Mission Hills
February is marked as American Heart Month to urge us all to lower our risk for developing heart disease, which is the #1 killer of both men and women in the U.S. But even when we know the importance of quitting smoking, controlling our weight and blood pressure, and getting more exercise, how many of us are really “walking the talk” to help spread awareness of better heart health?
Meet Tom Scaramellino.
As general manager of the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Tom takes the longtime Westin tagline “For a better you” to heart (pun intended.) “When a Westin associate suffered a heart attack at work and lost his life, it hit all of us hard,” Tom said. “Like so many of us, this is a cause that has affected me personally. I lost both my mother and baby sister to heart disease.”
So, when approached to be the volunteer chair of the Coachella Valley Heart Walk in 2018, Tom didn’t give it a second thought before saying yes. He’s been at the head of the Westin Heart Walk teams for two years now and will be back again for the 2020 Walk. Tom is in good company because Westin associates have been organizing annual Coachella Valley Heart Walk teams and raising lots of money for American Heart Association (AHA) heart disease research and education programs for many years.
“The saying ‘It takes a village’ is certainly true in the fight against heart disease. That’s why it’s gratifying to see so many local individuals, organizations and companies besides the Westin who are out there on a daily basis with their messages about what it means to be heart-healthy,” Tom continued. “Companies and organizations like Desert Oasis Healthcare, Desert Care Network and Eisenhower Health were not only at the Heart Walk in a big way but they are working every day with their patients and employees to make important changes in their heart health.”
As the local “Life is Why” sponsor, Desert Oasis Healthcare (DOHC) is marking February as Heart Month with weekly programs for their employees. These programs focus not only around diet, exercise, medicine and stress management but also how our pets and our loved ones can help to promote individual heart health. DOHC offers health screenings, including blood pressure readings, at dozens of community events and health fairs throughout the year. Recently, DOHC and the AHA completed a months-long program to educate older residents on heart health at the Indio Senior Center.
Now, Tom wants us all to “Go Red for Women” on February 21
On Friday, February 21, Westin Mission Hills will once again play host to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, which for 15 years has been raising awareness of heart disease among women. Go Red for Women has grown into a nationwide movement for American women taking the lead in eradicating heart disease and stroke all over the world.
“The six pillars of well-being supporting the Westin tagline are feel well, work well, move well, eat well, sleep well, and play well. I realized those align perfectly with both the annual Coachella Valley Heart Walk and Go Red for Women,” Tom said. “All of the Westin Mission Hills associates and I are looking forward to yet another successful Go Red event – not only in terms of money raised to further this good work but in continuing to build awareness of how heart disease affects women.”
Cardiovascular diseases, which include stroke, claim the life of a woman about every 80 seconds. Please consider joining the mission of the AHA and Go Red for Women because about 80% of cardiovascular diseases may be prevented.
“It’s not lost on me that two of the people in my life that I lost to heart disease were female – my mother and the baby sister I never knew and who didn’t get the chance to grow into a woman because of an infant heart condition,” Tom said. “The time is now to change this forever.”
How can YOU get involved?