Diane Carter

Name: Diane Carter: 71 years old
Church: 15th Street Church of God
Health Factors: Chronic back pain, high cholesterol

Diane Carter is excited. For the first time in 12 years, her efforts to alleviate chronic back pain are paying off.

She’s had injections, taken pain medicine and done everything short of surgery, she said. She’d been working out at the McCrorey YMCA, taking water arthritis classes for several years, but it wasn’t until she joined the 15th Street Church of God Village HeartBeat team that she started to see significant improvement with her back issues.

Under her training plan with Village HeartBeat, Carter switched to the water cardio fitness class, which she does seven times a week, and “it’s really, really working,” she said. She hasn’t had to take pain medicine since November.

And she started walking regularly. Every other Saturday morning, she and her niece, a member of a different Village HeartBeat team, walk 14 times around the track at the McCrorey Y.  She first started walking with a cane or a walker, but said she doesn’t need to use either now. In March, she participated in the Village Heartbeat 5k Run/Walk — her first walk in 18 years —and did not have to use a cane. “Every step of the way, I could not believe it,” she said with pride.

Carter also has a slightly elevated cholesterol levels, but she said she’s managing it well enough that she no longer has to take medication.

She’s lost 15 pounds and has seen a marked improvement in her BMI.  Her “back feels great — not perfect, but great,” Carter said.

“Since January, I’ve been so excited. As long as I live, I will join Village HeartBeat every year.”

Everybody is a winner

Carter’s church has fielded a Village HeartBeat team for several years, but this is her first year on the team. Because she was already working out, she didn’t see a need to join Village HeartBeat. But she would often see fellow church members at the Y and they were always so “upbeat and excited” about Village HeartBeat. She decided to join the team and is happy that she did.

“I can’t believe we get all of this nurturing, care, information, and guidance,” Carter said. “It’s almost like I’m going to the doctor for free.”

Carter gets inspired at the weigh-ins where she says “everybody comes out a winner; nobody comes out sad.”

She loves the challenges, biometric assessments and that everyone is held accountable for making team goals. When she doesn’t feel like exercising, she said she thinks about her team out in the cold, walking the track. That gets her moving.

“I had no idea that (Village HeartBeat) would help me this much,”  Carter said. “I’m embarrassed that this is my first year.”

Praise for Village HeartBeat

But it won’t be her last if she can help it. Carter said she will do everything she can to support Village HeartBeat and make sure it’s an annual thing.

She is thankful that Village HeartBeat is helping wipe out the “madness — these diseases we’ve been plagued with for generations”  — and for “providing us with the knowledge to take care of ourselves,” Carter said.

“We are taking this home to our loved ones, sisters and brothers,” she said. “Even the doctors are excited about it.”

She is especially grateful for the effect Village HeartBeat is having on the church’s senior members — they have a “glow on their faces,” Carter said.

Carter is looking forward to the fifth Annual Hearts of Champions Gala in May. She’s having a crinoline skirt made to go under her dress, she said.

“I’m so excited — and so grateful.”

About Village HeartBEAT: The faith-based program, run by the Mecklenburg County Health Department, seeks to reduce health factors associated with heart disease and diabetes in African American and Latino communities. This story, sponsored by VHB, is part of a series profiling some of the participants in the program.

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