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A heart for women’s health

A heart for women’s health

By Peg McRoy Glover

Kim Speer’s dedication and enthusiasm for the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red for Women initiative is so contagious it is hard not to want to be part of it when in her presence.

Named this year’s chair following last year’s Go Red for Women Luncheon, Speer is honored to have been asked.

“I am so proud to be the leader this year,” said Speer. “When I got a call from Amanda Mills, (executive director of the Indianapolis American Heart Association) last year to have coffee with her, I had no idea what it was all about. Frankly, I was floored that I had been recommended and immediately said ‘accepted.’”

Prevention through education

Started in 2004 by AHA, the Go Red for Women program, campaign, and platform helps increase women’s heart health awareness and provides information on prevention of cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 causeC of death among women.

“The No. 1 key of the campaign is prevention through education,” said Speer. “If people make healthy eating choices and make their health a priority, we can reduce our risks of heart disease. We don’t have to lose our mothers, sisters, and friends to cardiovascular disease.”

The Indianapolis AHA relies heavily on its volunteer network, board of directors, and leadership teams for nominations and recommendations on who will lead their initiatives. It was through these networks that Speer was nominated to be this year’s leader.

“There are key things that we look for,” said Mills. “We obviously want someone who is going to be passionate about our mission, have the ability to inspire others, lead by example, support our work on all fronts, and open doors to more people. I was told Kim would be dynamic in the role. I was sold at our first coffee meeting.”

Leading the way to awareness

Aside from Speer’s first and foremost fundraising responsibilities this year, she also worked with the Circle of Red, a group of women who are leaders in the community and can bring more attention to the issue, and Women of Impact, a group of women who work diligently for nine weeks trying to raise as much money as possible.

“Working with Kim this year has been such a joy and blessing,” said Mills.  “She really stepped in and elevated this campaign. Over the past couple of years things have been a little rough with COVID. Going virtual we lost some momentum. Kim has turned that around. She stepped up into a leadership position and rallied friends, colleagues, and partners in the community to support Go Red for Women.”

Go Red for Women was launched almost 20 years ago because women were not being represented in the science and research of cardiovascular disease. Women were often misdiagnosed and brushed off as suffering from something less serious.

In the last couple of decades, it has been discovered that there has been a great deal of misconceptions about women and cardiovascular disease. It was learned that women have different signs, symptoms, and present differently to health care providers.

Go Red for Women has helped turn all of that around.

Kim Speer is chairing this years Go Red for Women Luncheon. (Submitted photo)

Be the Beat

The annual Go Red for Women campaign culminates in February, National Heart Month, at its annual luncheon on Feb. 17. The theme of the luncheon is “Be the Beat,” which is a reference to learning Hands-Only CPR. It is the AHA’s goal to have at least one member of each household trained in Hands-Only CPR. It can be a lifesaver for someone having a heart attack.

To learn more about CPR classes go to CPR Indianapolis at cprindianapolisin.com.

The luncheon is sold out, but an online purse auction is a great way to help raise money for this initiative. Each purse is themed; for example, carrying a purse while traveling or one for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,  The auction goes live on Monday, Feb. 13 at noon and will end Friday, Feb. 17 at noon at event.gives/indygored/items.

Interested in purchasing a heart scan at Franciscan Health for you or your loved one for Valentine’s Day?

Here’s some information on heart scans and how to set up an appointment:

  • The scans are quick, painless, last about 15 minutes and only cost $49.
  • Heart scans provide early detection of heart disease even when symptoms may not be present.
  • A heart scan takes pictures of our heart’s arteries, allowing physicians to check for coronary artery disease, which occurs when plaque builds up.
  • Who should get a scan?
    • Anyone 40 years old or older
    • Anyone with high blood pressure or cholesterol
    • Anyone with diabetes
    • Anyone who is overweight or obese
    • Anyone with a history of smoking

To set up and appointment for a scan at Franciscan Health go to franciscanhealth.org/conditions-and-services/heart-care/heart-scan

To donate to Go Red for Women go to goredforwomen.org/en/get-involved/give. Now is the perfect time to give because donations will be matched by Big Lots and the Big Lots Foundation.

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