At that meeting, Decker heard a statistic that astounded her.
“When I heard that 1 in 3 women die of heart disease, I couldn’t believe it,” she said, and joined the Circle of Red – a giving society – on the spot. “We need to change that.”
Since then, Decker has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about women’s heart health. To honor her efforts, Decker will receive the 2021 Jane Golub Crystal Heart Award from the American Heart Association at the 2021 Go Red for Women Luncheon set for Friday, Nov. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Capital Center (55 Eagle St., Albany).
After joining the Circle of Red, Decker quickly became involved with the BetterU, the annual heart-health improvement program that about 12 women participate in, and whose efforts are showcased at the Go Red for Women Luncheon. Today, Decker is the chair of the BetterU program, which has now touched the lives of more than 120 women. Decker also chaired the Go Red for Women Luncheon in 2013, and is serving for the second time on the Capital Region Board of Directors of the American Heart Association.
“I’m really honored to receive this award,” said Decker, who owns Maria’s Bowls and Smoothies and is a manger of the River Street Market in Troy. “Jane Golub was someone who didn’t just show up at an event, she put everything she had into it. And I feel humbled to follow in the footsteps of past winners Dr. Suzie Mookherjee of Albany Med and Kathy Lanni of SEFCU.”
Decker, in fact, presented the Crystal Heart Award to Dr. Mookherjee in 2018. It was renamed the Jane Golub Crystal Heart Award the following year, after Jane Golub passed away.
Although Decker is committed to improving women’s heart health, it was her father’s early death from heart disease that set the stage for her future involvement with the American Heart Association. She was only six when he passed away. As a teenager, Decker and her brother Angelo Mazzone began working in their family’s Italian restaurant. Decker has worked in the food industry for many years, and emphasizes healthy, unprocessed food and regular exercise in her life, and of the people she loves.
“Working with the BetterU women is very rewarding,” said Decker. “Every year, a group of strangers becomes very close and supports each other in really big ways. This year’s group faced special challenges. They started at the end of January in 2020, and we went remote in March 2020, then rescheduled the group to begin again in person in the summer of 2021. They have come back strong and worked so hard since then. I’m so proud of them.”
“Maria exemplifies the word community,” said Michelle Kollmer, Relationship Manager, CAP COM At Work and co-chair of the 2021 Go Red for Women Luncheon. “She is selfless and continues to work with women to help them gain the confidence and knowledge to live a ‘heart-healthy’ life. As the co-chair of this year’s event, I’m proud to present Maria with the Crystal Heart award.”
“Maria’s incredible dedication and commitment to AHA is exceptional,” said Christianne Smith, owner of Designsmith Studio and co-chair of the 2021 Go Red for Women Luncheon. “Her insatiable desire to encourage and support, is experienced by everyone she meets. She is our mama bear, best friend, and soul sister wrapped into one. When I think of the heartbeat of the American Heart Association, I think of Maria first.”
“The Go Red for Women Luncheon is an incredible event,” said Decker. “I hope everyone comes to celebrate the success of the BetterU, hear the Go Red Talk, and learn how they can fight heart disease. I also want everyone to share the statistic that 1 in 3 women die of heart disease. Then I want them to take steps to change that.”
Decker is originally from Massapequa and now lives in Clifton Park with her husband, Bob. They have four children and six grandchildren.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.CapitalRegionNYGoRedLuncheon.heart.org. Masks are required.
About the 2021 Go Red for Women Luncheon
The 2021 Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon is set for Friday, Nov. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Capital Center in Albany. Michelle Kollmer, CAP COM At Work Relationship Manager, and Christianne Smith, principal, Designsmith Studios, are the co-chairs of the event. Subrina Dhammi of WNYT News Channel 13 is the emcee. The Festival of Red, including the Purse-Onality auction, begins at 10:30 a.m. The Go Red Talk with Dr. Heidi Cordi of Albany Med and heart disease survivor Marcy Fiet, starts at 11 a.m. Lunch and the program begin at Noon. The program includes the introduction of the BetterU, the Teen of Impact program, and celebrates the Men Go Red. CVS Health is the national sponsor. Albany Med is the Life is Why sponsor. Local sponsors include CAP COM Federal Credit Union, SEFCU, Upstate Animal Medical Center, American National, and Neil and Jane Golub. Media sponsors are WNYT News Channel 13, B 95.5 and Women@Work is the BetterU media sponsor.