Some executives do philanthropic work out of duty. CACI’s CEO Paul Cofoni does it out of passion. In June 2008, Cofoni underwent double bypass surgery. Several months later, barely back on the job, Cofoni was asked by the American Heart Association to chair an upcoming event: Start! Heart Walk 2009. It was an offer Cofoni couldn’t refuse. “Having been the beneficiary of so much research sponsored by the American Heart Association, it was very easy for me to say, ‘This is a great way to help others.’” Cofoni recently offered ExecutiveBiz an update on those efforts.
- Sponsored by the American Heart Association, Start! Heart Walk 2009 will bring together area companies and individuals on the National Mall to fight heart disease.
- This year’s chair is CACI’s CEO Paul Cofoni. “Having been the beneficiary of so much research sponsored by the American Heart Association, it was very easy for me to say, ‘This is a great way to help others,’” he says.
- The event is slated for Saturday, Nov. 14. For more information, visit startgreaterwashington.org or call 703-248-1715.
“We’ll be out there in our CACI jerseys leading the walk down the Mall!”
— Paul Cofoni, CEO, CACI
ExecutiveBiz: Why should area companies and individuals care about Start! Heart Walk 2009?
Paul Cofoni: Our employees are our future. They are CACI’s greatest asset and our greatest resource. That is why we want to look at every available option and program to help them learn about heart disease, understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and most importantly, place our employees on a path that will keep them heart healthy.
It’s not only good for our employees, it’s a sound business strategy. Companies can save anywhere from $3 to $15 for every $1 spent on health and wellness programs. Heart disease costs the nation more than $300 billion annually. Companies spend 25 to 30 percent of their annual medical costs on employees with excess health risk defined mostly by their risk for heart disease and stroke. As a survivor of heart disease, I have recognized the importance of establishing and maintaining heart healthy activities at CACI and increasing our employee’s awareness and education regarding heart disease.
ExecutiveBiz: What innovative ways has CACI found to promote employee wellness?
Paul Cofoni: CACI has brought people together in new morale-building ways. For example, I’ve been doing walks with different parts of the company. That idea come from one of our employees who said, ‘Why don’t we do a walk with the CEO at lunchtime?’ We also had a golf tournament with all proceeds going toward the American Heart Association. Along with the golf tournament, there was an auction; we auctioned off three weeks of vacation. People paid $25 for a raffle ticket; lo and behold we raised over $27,000.
ExecutiveBiz: Recently, CACI made Fortune magazine’s list of “fit and friendly” companies. How did that come about?
Paul Cofoni: That’s right, Fortune magazine, in their Sept. 28 issue, published a list of “Fit Friendly Companies.” These are companies that are reengineering the contents of their vending machines and stimulating more activity amongst their workforce. We’re proud to say we made the list. It’s a great movement. It doesn’t have to stop there, though. There’s an application that companies can fill out and submit to the American Heart Association; the award or achievement level they can attain is called a “Fit Friendly Company.”
ExecutiveBiz: Tell us what’s on tap Nov. 14 with the Start! Heart Walk.
Paul Cofoni: This is going to be a fun day. We’ll have all of these tents, probably 30 or so, out on the National Mall — learning opportunity tents that teach people about heart health, tents that feed people a heart-healthy breakfast, tents for children to learn about heart health. There will be celebrations of people who have made lifestyle changes. Then, of course, there’s going to be the walk itself. We anticipate somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 people walking three miles twice around the Mall. Not the whole Mall, but half – twice around. There’s also a 1-mile walk option.
ExecutiveBiz: How much money do you expect to raise?
Paul Cofoni: We have a goal to hit $2 million net, which will go toward research. The companies themselves have sponsored and written checks — $300,000 more than last year. We’re really proud of that, given it’s a much more difficult economic climate. We’ve raised in total $1.3 million from company sponsorships plus the commitments to walkers by sponsors of walkers. We expect to accelerate that growth in contributions raised between now and Nov. 14.
ExecutiveBiz: How much has CACI committed to the effort?
Paul Cofoni: Our company made a commitment of $125,000; we expect to exceed that amount. So far, we’ve got 91 captains of walking teams, as well as over 670 walkers and counting. Our goal is to get 1,000 walkers. I don’t know if we will but we’re still going to be well above 600.
ExecutiveBiz: How can people and companies participate?
Paul Cofoni: We’re at the peak of that; we can still get companies involved, people involved, pets involved — we have a dog and cat walking path as well. People can bring out their dogs! All you have to do is log onto startgreaterwashington.org or call 703-248-1719. Whoever wants to be a part of this fun day and improve their own health, we’re happy to get you signed up. For our part, we’ll be out there in our CACI jerseys leading the walk down the Mall!