M&T Vice-president chairing 2021 Heart Challenge

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Vinny Oppedisano, Vice President/Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager at M & T Bank, is chairing the 2021 Heart Challenge in Dutchess-Ulster.

Seven years ago, at the age of 33, chest pains sent the banker to see a doctor. “I weighed about 300 pounds, and my doctor sent me to a cardiologist,” Oppedisano said. “I had high blood pressure, and my heart was enlarged. I have valve disease that we are watching to see if I need surgery.”

His cardiologist recommended Weight Watchers, where Oppedisano lost 30 pounds.

“Then I dropped another 20, and then I started working with a personal trainer,” he said. “He helped me understand fitness, weight loss, and how to achieve goals. I’ve done 5Ks, 10Ks, some Spartan races, and I power lift.  My blood pressure is now 120/80, with no medication. It’s great. A few years ago, I couldn’t’ even walk on a treadmill.”

That’s part of the reason that Oppedisano is chairing the 2021 Heart Challenge in Dutchess-Ulster. The Heart Challenge includes the American Heart Association’s Heart Walks, Field Days, and CycleNation. In the Hudson Valley, the focus is on the Dutchess-Ulster Heart Walk, set for Saturday, April 17. It will be a digital experience, with people able to run or walk wherever they are while raising money for the American Heart Association. A series of digital activities are planned for the week preceding the Heart Walk.

“I want to spread the word about heart disease and how important it is,” Oppedisano said. “The Heart Walk shouldn’t just be a day; it should be a whole year. We might all have hereditary reasons for having heart disease, but I want to be sure we are educating people to the best they can to improve their health. Eating well and exercising is so important, and a great way to prevent heart disease and stroke.”

“Vinny’s story is inspiring, and a reminder of how important heart health is,” said Melissa Hannigan, manager of patient registration/office manager of specialty service at Ellenville Regional Hospital, and chair of the Hudson Valley Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. “This will be our second year of the Heart Walk being a digital event, and I know that Vinny will lead us to great success again this year. We’re all grateful he took on this role.”

Oppedisano is building an Executive Leadership Team that will help him spearhead the fight against heart disease and stroke in the Hudson Valley.

Vinny Oppedisano

Oppedisano has been a banker all his working life – and just as he sees the Heart Walk to help people solve health problems, he sees numbers to help people.

“I discovered in high school that I was good with numbers, and took some financial courses in college,” he said. “When I graduated, I became a branch manager at M & T Bank. I like looking at financial statements, dissecting them, and understanding them. I want to help people and businesses see why expenses are what they are; how they can save; how they can re-categorize or refinance some debt to save more and increase profitability for the business.”

Oppedisano recently joined the Dutchess-Ulster Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. He is a past Heart Walk participant.

Participants can register, build their teams and fundraise at DutchessUlsterHeartWalk.org.

The Dutchess-Ulster Heart Walk and Run will be a digital event beginning with activities on April 12 and culminating in a celebration on April 17, 2021. This includes a virtual step challenge for all registered participants. The Dutchess-Ulster Heart Walk and Run is seeking to raise $275,000 to fight heart disease and stroke.

To register, visit DutchessUlsterHeartWalk.org. For information, contact Danielle.Schuka@heart.org.