Story & photos by Madeline Marcelia Garvin
Everyone knows February is the month to bring out the heart paraphernalia for Valentine’s Day, and celebrate the love of your life. Nevertheless, February is also the month that the American Heart Association goes all out in focusing on heart disease, which is the number one killer of women. More women die from heart disease than any of the next five causes of death, which is why it is so important to have a heart check up.
Friday, Feb. 7, the “Go Red” Women’s Passion Committee sponsored information booths with representatives from area businesses and organizations; such as: Fort Wayne Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a Public Service Organization; Have Faith in Heart Support Group; IPFW School of Nursing; Kingston Health Care; Lutheran Life Villages; Parkview Health, and Women in the NAACP-Fort Wayne Branch. Aside from the aforementioned organizations, numerous volunteers were on hand to assist with the giving away of freebies, conducting raffles for a Cinda B travel set, leading exercise routines, offering massages, and screenings while promoting a healthy lifestyle and diet to prevent heart disease by knowing one’s numbers: cholesterol and blood sugar, along with that of blood pressure, which oftentimes is a silent killer.
When I consulted with Denise Jordan, RN, MA; nursing professor in IPFW’s School of Nursing, she informed me that her students participate in this activity to fulfill one of their required service learning components in their nursing curricula. In addition Professor Jordan mentioned that heart health is one of their promotions, and she believes heart health for women is a very important program.
Another individual who is quite active with the Go Red for Women Program is community activist Sheila Campbell-Curry. Sheila, the local NAACP’s Youth Director, has been active with the local American Heart Association for the last five years, and became extensively involved in 2011, when she participated in its local Go Red for Women Casting Call, which was sponsored by Macy’s and WANE-TV. I asked Sheila why she is such a strong advocate for this movement, and she said, “I have a family history of heart disease. As a matter of fact, I have had several siblings die because of heart disease; namely: a sister at 43, and two brothers, one at 50 and the other at 51.” At 53, Sheila has already experienced the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease; for she experienced her first incident in 2007; then in 2011, she experienced congestive heart failure, and in 2011, she went into cardiac arrest.
Because of such traumatic heart health problems, familial and personal, I asked Sheila what has helped her to prevail and Sheila’s response to that was: “I believe it is important to just keep it moving.” And, that she does! Sheila does low impact exercise and walks in addition to keeping involved in the community in several service related organizations; such as: the Fort Wayne Urban League; the local American Heart Association “Go Red for Women,” and the local NAACP. Sheila fully believes we all have some type of gift to contribute. As Sheila further indicated, “I can’t do it all; but, I can serve a little.” By doing just a little, such individuals as Sheila Campbell-Curry and the local American Heart Association Social Director, Mary Pat Leonard are making an impact in the Fort Wayne community and changing lives.
Furthermore, as pointed out by the American Heart Association, “Heart disease and stroke are the greatest health threats to women of all ethnic backgrounds, but only 21 percent realize it.” And African-American, Native-American and Hispanic women are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease than their Caucasian counterparts; still minority groups are not as likely to know they have major risk factors; such as: diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, overweight and a family history.
Nationally, “Go Red for Women” is sponsored by Macy’s, while locally Fifth Third Bank, GLO Magazine, WAJI Radio and WANE-TV have been strong supporters along with several other health facilities. For information regarding how you can get involved and support the local American Heart Association contact Mary Pat Leonard at (260) 485-9890, who can give you further information regarding another “Go Red for Women” event; which is its Cinda B sponsored Pinot and Prevention Party to be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 20, at the McMillen Center for Health Education. To enter, one must be 21, and the cost for the party, featuring wine tasting, heart healthy appetizers and a dark chocolate fountain is $20. Along with this, of course, are health education rooms and a featured speaker.
Finally, in support of women and heart disease, wear red to church Sunday during the month of February; and check the American Heart Association and Go Red websites. Get involved! Help save your life and the life of other women through education and activity.