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Donny Osmond, American Heart Association Team Up to Get Americans Walking

Entertainment icon inspires six National Challengers to get serious about

health, once and for all

NEW YORK, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Most have heard the alarming statistics: Heart disease and stroke are the nation's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, claiming nearly 870,000 lives each year. Sixty-six percent of Americans are overweight and obese.


World-renowned entertainer Donny Osmond and the American Heart Association aim to reverse the trend toward inactivity and unhealthiness by launching the 2008 National Start! Challenge, featuring six people from across the country who've committed to a healthier lifestyle. The Challenge focuses on eating right and walking.

"Good health has always been one of my top priorities, but with a large family and busy schedule I can relate to the struggles that many people face in terms of making time for fitness," Osmond said. "The great thing about walking is that it's simple. Most people can find places to walk at work or in their communities. Plus, there's no equipment to buy, no learning curve. You can literally start today."

Osmond kicked off the National Start! Challenge in New York City on Jan. 3 with the introduction of the six Challengers: Cecilie Jones of San Diego, Marcus Colina of Brooklyn, N.Y., Debbie Waters of Plainview, Ill., Betty of Austin, Texas, Michael DeFreeuw of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Mike Wilson of Topeka, Kan.

These individuals have made a commitment to walk five days a week, strength train for two days and improve their eating habits. The Challengers will blog and track their progress on MyStart! Online, the program's free tracking tool, which is available to anyone. Of the National Challengers, a winner will be chosen based on progress in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and other metrics over 12 weeks. These results will be combined with online voting by the American public to choose a winner. Osmond will also provide updates on the Web site about his progress in the Challenge and will help the American Heart Association "crown" the winner in April. Americans who want to join the Start! Challenge can register online at

Start! is sponsored nationally by SUBWAY(R) Restaurants, Healthy Choice(R) and AstraZeneca. For more information, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit For National Start! Challenger bios visit For more information or to schedule an interview with a Start! spokesperson, please contact Elizabeth Moreno at

About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart diseases and stroke. These diseases, America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular diseases, claim nearly 870,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2006-07 the association invested more than $554 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

SOURCE American Heart Association
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