By Madeline Marcelia Garvin
Special to Frost Illustrated
Saturday, Oct. 12, was a busy day for the Go Red Women and McMahon Tire Company on the outskirts of the Fort Wayne Glenbrook Mall. Mary Pat Leonard, the local Director and Socials Chair for the American Heart Association interacted with Nikki Jasperson, the Director of Retail Development for McMahon Tires to coordinate the morning’s blood pressure and tire pressure screenings, because both are serious concerns, especially for women.
Mary Pat who has been coordinating the Better U Programs for women in Fort Wayne since 2009, along with the Pinot and Prevention Parties, the annual American Heart Association Luncheon for Women in November and the Heart Ball, is extremely serious when discussing issues involving women’s health, especially heart health because heart disease is the number one killer of women. Thus, when questioned about this activity, Leonard stated that she was prompted to begin this program because she had heard that women not only needed to know their blood pressure to address their heart health, but, women needed to understand the importance of knowing their auto tire pressure and how to gauge it properly to remain safe while driving. “Therefore,” said Mary Pat, “anything we can do to assist people as far as improving their health and letting them know about health and prevention is very important, for health sometimes is scary. And that which still drives me are the women in the Better U Programs who have made significant strides in improving their health concerns.”
Some of the individuals whom Leonard referred to include: Mary King, Anna Marsh, Susan Peters and Joyce Rutledge-Paige. Susan, Anna, and Joyce have recently completed the Better U Program; whereas, Mary King participated in the third year Better U Program. While communicating with these women, I learned that all of them have some form of heart disease whether it is High Blood Pressure, AFib, or Congestive Heart Failure, and all of them are working diligently to improve their heart health. Peters, along with Joyce Rutledge-Paige, who were serving as hostesses distributing healthy snacks; such as: apples, granola bars and water, at the McMahon’s check your pressure event. Peters indicated she realized she needed to get healthy and she had been struggling with weight for years; though she has had 19 different surgeries, she is still going strong, and with motivation and participation in this program is thrilled to have lost 16 pounds.
Rutledge-Paige’s story, though just as inspiring as Peters’ story, is similar to many who are involved in the Go Red activities, because she has a family history of heart disease and also has suffered with heart ailments. Thus, one afternoon she decided she needed to become healthier and needed some motivation. So, Joyce stated she sat down at her computer and Googled: American Heart Association, which is where she saw the information pertaining to the Better U Program and decided to get involved. She telephoned Mary Pat, who met her for coffee and from there the rest is history. Joyce is now on her way to a healthier lifestyle.
Anna Marsh, one of this year’s Better U Program participants is Hispanic, and she shared that this class is very diverse, having a composition of 3 Hispanics, 9 African-Americans, and 21 Caucasians. Anna became involved because she also wanted to become healthier, for like African-Americans, many Hispanics suffer from heart disease due to their diets and lifestyle. All of the aforementioned women are well on their way to having a healthier heart and a more active life.
Along with the Better U participants volunteering at this activity, there were IPFW senior student nurses: Shana Patel, Bobby Phillips and Danika Warfield who were fulfilling an assignment to serve the community. Thus, they worked from 8:00 a.m. – Noon to address their course requirements while helping women and others focus on issues regarding heart health.
In conclusion, Jasperson, as McMahon’s representative, said, “I am motivated and excited to be involved with this program because I work with the community a lot.” Thus, she indicated that she is happy to reach out to others to assist with such a rewarding endeavor, because women tend to know little about keeping their cars in the best shape as possible to prevent anything from happening. Jasperson continued by saying: “I was pleased to assist with filling the distributed goodie bags with perks and coupons from 3Rivers Running, Tranquil Touch Spa, Applebees, Anytime Fitness, Spot on Nutrition, Smoothie King and Macy’s.”
Mary Pat wanted to remind everyone that cars and moms must be safe for families. Thus, one of the best ways for women to do this is to check their blood pressure and tire pressure. Though this event was advertised for women, there were a number of men who stopped by and had their pressure checked; and, this year’s winner of a set of four tires from McMahon Tires was Robert Petts.