TUCSON, AZ, May 8, 2023 — Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in Southern Arizona and James Stringham, Vice President/Chief Executive Officer of Banner Health Plans and Sara Spiekermeier, Chief Operations Officer of Banner Health Plans are working hand-in-hand with the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, to change that. Stringham and Spiekermeier will serve as chairs for the 2023-2024 Tucson Heart Challenge™, a community campaign focused on engaging local companies, corporations and their employees to join the fight against heart disease and stroke. 

“Heart disease afflicted my grandmother. I understand the physical and emotional toll it has on an individual and their loved ones,” said Stringham. “Heart disease has impacted most of the men in my family. We want all Southern Arizonans to live happy and healthy lives free from heart disease and stroke,” added Spiekermeier.

As chairs of the Heart Challenge™, James Stringham and Sara Spiekermeier will lead a team of Tucson executives to recruit companies and organizations to take part in various Heart Challenge™ initiatives including Heart Walk®, Field Day, and Executives with Heart. Through these initiatives, the leadership team and supporting organizations will raise funds for the American Heart Association while leading action-oriented conversations about employee health, corporate engagement, community health and community transformation. 

“We are incredibly grateful for these leaders who are stepping up to move the needle when it comes to heart disease and stroke” said McKensie Garza, Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Southern Arizona.  “Through the various Heart Challenge™ initiatives, we are able to drive maximum impact through employee engagement and corporate fundraising. Together, we can save lives right here in Southern Arizona”.

Heart disease and stroke are largely preventable and how you eat, move and manage stress impacts your well-being, physically and mentally. Heart Challenge™ provides resources, tools and activities to support both mental and physical well-being for employers and employees. 

For more information about Heart Challenge™ or to get your company involved, contact Kathy Wood or visit Arizona | American Heart Association.


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries:

Christopher Calloway (702) 789.4379 / Christopher.Calloway@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org