Reprinted here in its entirety.
Chocolate kisses, red roses and conversation hearts are all
popular items to give to someone you love to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The
National Confectioners Association states about 8 billion conversation hearts
will be produced this year—enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to
Valentine, Ariz., and back again 20 times!
Candy hearts may saturate the Valentine’s market, but this chocolate-covered
holiday is not the underlying reason why February is American Heart Month. Due
to reading stories of famed romantic couples such as Romeo and Juliet, most
people see a heart in February and think of the emotional, metaphysical dealings
of the heart and not the physical workings of the heart itself. Since the Center
for Disease Control states heart disease is the number one cause of death in the
United States, the real tragedy is ignoring the most powerful organ in our
The heart is an extraordinary, muscular organ. According to the Cleveland
Clinic, this intense cardiac machine works industriously in a human being,
pumping about 100,000 times a day. With such an intense workload, our hearts
deserve and dictate the need for a positive work environment.
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests 30 minutes of moderate exercise
a day for cardiovascular fitness. Because our hearts pump so many times in one
day, it makes sense that we strengthen them so this process can continue (and
continue with minimum effort). At Jacksonville State University, Stephenson Hall
and Pete Mathews Coliseum provide instructors, space and equipment to aid
students and others in exercising their hearts.
Students, faculty, staff and their dependants have access to these two
buildings including facilities such as weight rooms, racquetball courts, a
cardio room, indoor pool and other heart healthy spaces. Lifetime members of the
alumni association also have right of entry to both Stephenson and the Coliseum
and could energize after work with a walk around the track or a high-energy
Another promotion of the AHA for keeping your heart happy is nutritional
living, choosing nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains
most often. A study published in the AHA scientific journal last month revealed
three main causes of metabolic syndrome (a collection of medical factors which
increase one’s risk of heart disease and diabetes): too much meat, fried foods
and diet soda.
With a fast-paced lifestyle, balancing school, work and sometimes a family,
students attending JSU do not always have the free time to spend shopping,
planning and cooking healthy and balanced meals each day. Through Sodexho,
Dining Services on campus works toward social responsibility, which for them
includes participation in an environmental action program, the STOP Hunger
initiative, and a dynamic effort in providing patrons of Hopper Hall healthy
A nutritional analysis book is made available at the entrance of the dining
hall, including information on all of the items served by Sodexho. On the first
Wednesday of every month, a special emphasis is placed on heart health when Gina
Mabrey, an instructor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and
Recreation, conducts a short lunch discussion as a part of the campaign “Get
Well JSU” during these Wellness Wednesdays.
Other organizations on campus are working to promote heart health and help
where and when they can. The Freshman Forum is currently collecting old cell
phones for organ transplant candidates and recipients through TripleHeart, Inc.,
an online outreach organization for transplant recipients, their families and
caregivers to connect, communicate and encourage. TripleHeart was founded by JSU
alum, former Southerner and heart transplant recipient Kel Kelley, who recently
passed away. The phones collected through this initiative will be distributed to
those awaiting transplants in case they need to make an emergency call.
A call goes out to the hearts of students, faculty, staff and the community
to donate blood. The Student Government Association at JSU hosts a blood drive
at least once a semester. More than 140 people are predicted to show up today
from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Theron Montgomery Building auditorium to give so that
others may live.
“When you give blood you not only save a life but you help change someone's
life,” says student organizer Jennifer Nix. “It’s important for us to promote
the drives because the supply of blood is dangerously low and we want people to
come out and make a difference and give people life.”
Bob Hope said, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the
worst kind of heart trouble.”
For more information on these matters of the heart at Jacksonville State
University, visit www.jsu.edu or call 782-5781.
Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and
Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com