Sandra McDuffie
Sandra McDuffie

Name: Rev. Sandra McDuffie

Church: St. Luke Baptist Church

Health factors: High blood pressure, diabetes and high sugar levels

Her story:

When Sandra McDuffie, associate pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church, first heard of Village HeartBEAT, she assumed it was a program that supported local churches and communities. It wasn’t until the first meeting that she realized the program was all about health, teamwork and improving lives.

She also realized that it would be perfect not only for her St. Luke Baptist, but for her as well. McDuffie’s doctor had said she didn’t walk enough. And even though she has a family history of diabetes, when her doctor told her she was pre-diabetic, she panicked.

Her blood pressure and sugar levels have now improved, her weight is down and she no longer has to take diabetes medication. “What this organization did was allow me to understand how my eating habits, my health choices, everything about my body, was important to keep thriving,” she said.

McDuffie loves the cardio bench press and has increased her walking, but she enjoys water cardio most of all.

Her challenges:

McDuffie said the hardest thing so far has been helping team members when they face life challenges. As team captain, she feels that part of her role is to encourage her teammates and not let them give up. “This is our opportunity to keep each other lifted up. It’s a rallying around…to keep them uplifted,” she said.

The easiest part:

McDuffie emphasizes the importance of team. Exercise sessions with her church group have grown beyond the original Village HeartBEAT members. She recalled walking laps around the church one day with here fellow teammates when they were questioned by neighbors. The next day, she said, those same people joined them on their walk.

Her role as captain:

McDuffie talks about Village HeartBEAT with an air of excitement. As associate pastor of Christian education, she has a full plate. But she also makes time for her role as captain. “It’s a heavy load that has changed my lifestyle and that I’m willing to do,” she said. “This program is great for churches and communities within the church. It’s a wonderful program, and I am so very happy to be a part of it.”

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series profiling some of the success story of Village HeartBEAT, a faith-based wellness program operated by the Mecklenburg County Health Department.