This Friday, people across McLennan County and the country are encouraged to wear red for the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day, in order to kick off American Heart Month and build awareness for heart disease in women.
“It’s important to know how to keep our hearts healthy so that we can live a healthier life, have a better quality of life and just be there for our families,” said Courtney Wollard, public health planner in the emergency preparedness program at the Waco-McLennan Health District. “It’s especially important for residents who have a family history of heart disease or heart problems that they know how to keep their hearts healthy, because if they have a family history of heart problems, then they have an increased risk of having heart problems.”
Peggy Lane, a volunteer with the American Heart Association and a staff member from 1995 to 2012, said famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower, the Space Needle in Seattle and Times Square will be lit up with red lights. Waco landmarks such as the Interstate 35 bridges, Pat Neff Hall, the McLennan County Courthouse and the Dr Pepper Museum will also be lit with red lights as they were last year for National Wear Red Day.
“I help to raise money and awareness with the Go Red Movement,” Lane said. “It’s a great way to create a really big impression that heart disease is something we all need to be aware of, especially as women.”
Heart disease kills more women each year than all forms of cancer combined, a press release from the American Heart Association of Central Texas said. 80 percent of heart and stroke incidents are preventable just with healthier lifestyle choices, but women are dying at a rate of one per minute because they don’t know that this is their No. 1 health threat, according to the press release.
“I really believe in the importance of several aspects of health, whether that be heart health, healthy eating, no smoking, hand washing and just general health, because if we are healthy, we have a healthy community, we can thrive and we can be prosperous,” Wollard said. “It’s really important for the community to be educated on how to be healthy.”
Wollard said that Live Well Waco, a coalition dedicated to improving the health of people in McLennan County, will host the Women’s Health Conference with the Central Texas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 25 for Heart Health Month. This event will be a day focused on equipping women to improve their health.
“We’ve developed a map that people can actually select a different category for what they’re looking for. It’s a really great project that went live last week,” Wollard said. “We have six different categories of health that we like to focus on through the website.”
The website’s six categories are “Be Well,” “Play Well,” “Eat Well,” “Work Well,” “Breathe Well” and “Think Well.” Wollard encourages anyone looking for more information about the Women’s Health Conference or Live Well Waco go online since events are always listed there, and there is supplemental information as well.
Lane said the American Heart Association has three main fundraising events throughout the year. Feb. 24 is the Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Baylor Club. On May 6, there will be a gala which will be Kentucky Derby-themed this year. In October, the Heart Walk will take place and starts at the statue of Robert Griffin III in front of McLane Stadium and then goes across the pedestrian bridge through campus. Lane said volunteers are mainly needed to decorate for the luncheon and help with the walk. Anyone interested in volunteering can reach out to Janet Ginsburg, corporate market director of the American Heart Association in Waco, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are a volunteer organization, and we depend on volunteers,” Lane said. “There’s one staff person in Waco, and we love to have Baylor students volunteer.”