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Actor Daphne Maxwell Reid Headlines First Hampton Roads AHA ‘Go Red For Women’ Luncheon

They say the color red attracts attention. They say it commands respect. In many cultures, red symbolizes joy and happiness.

And, as irony would have it, red is also the traditional color of warning and danger.

On May 8, the beautiful dining room of the Chamberlin in Hampton, Virginia was a sea of red when more than 200 women, clad in crimson, gathered for the first Hampton Roads “Go Red for Women” luncheon.

Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

‘Women in Red’ register for luncheon. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

Jennifer Stuebbe, Event Chair. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

Juliet Bickford, WTKR NewsChannel 3, event emcee. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s critical national movement to heighten women’s awareness about their risks for heart disease and stroke.

The Go Red for Women movement began in 2004 when the American Heart Association (AHA) became fully aware of the myths surrounding cardiovascular disease and the risk for women. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet, according to the AHA women were not paying attention. Many even dismissed it as an older man’s disease.

“Stopping the Serial Killer – Women & Heart Disease” Breakout session presented by Bon Secours. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. And it does not discriminate.
Actor Daphne Maxwell Reid (best known as Aunt Vivian from the hit comedy, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” starring Will Smith) knows the dangers of cardiovascular disease first-hand.

Keynote Speaker, Daphne Maxwell Reid. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

In her emotional and passionate keynote address at the luncheon, Reid recounted how in 2003 her mother suffered a stroke after a misdiagnosed heart problem. After being hospitalized, she suffered another stroke and died three weeks later.

“Know the dangers. Learn the warning signs,” Reid said. “And never be afraid to get more than one opinion.”

Guests also heard the inspirational story of Gail Alexander Wright, a heart disease and stroke survivor from Chesapeake, Virginia.

At 37 years old, Wright, an avid exerciser, suffered a heart attack, and a few months later, a stroke.
Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 4 killers of women in Hampton Roads.

“I couldn’t believe what had happened to me at such a young age,” Wright said. “But, I came to realize that I was burning the candle at both ends.”

After months of rehab and a lifestyle change, Gail is a 5 year survivor. You can read more of Wright’s story HERE

Heart attack and stroke survivor, Gail Alexander Wright looks on as daughter Brittney Wright shares her mother’s story. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

In communities around the country, including Hampton Roads, the AHA has stepped up efforts with events like Go Red for Women which not only raise awareness but also help raise money for critical heart disease research, education, and support programs.

Ann Crenshaw, “Circle of Red” Chair. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

7 year-old open-heart surgery survivor, Ava Strohecker is serenaded by Sinatra tribute artist. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

More than $2,000 raised from “Purse-onality” Auction. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

In the last 10 years since the first National Wear Red Day, the AHA says it has made significant strides.: The death rate for women and heart disease has dropped, women’s guidelines created by the AHA have educated millions of healthcare providers to recognize and treat heart disease in women; and the number of women aware of their No. 1 killer has jumped from 22% to well over 50%.

“Go Red for Women” information table. Photo by Michael Smid, MFS Photography

Red is the color of power. As the symbolic color of the heart, it is also color of love.

As guests left the luncheon, they were reminded that each woman has the power to make changes that will help lessen their risk of heart disease and stroke; and each of us owes it to ourselves, and to the ones we love.

Go Red for Women VIDEO “Just a Little Heart Attack”

Click HERE to learn more about Go Red for Women: Fight Heart Disease

Click HERE to learn more about the work of the American Heart Association Hampton Roads

Join thousands in the community for the Hampton Roads Heart Walk on September 21, 2013 at Mt. Trashmore, Virginia Beach; and October 12, 2013 at the Peninsula Town Center, Newport News.


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