On Thursday, over 20 people took advantage of the opportunity to paint hearts in order to raise money for Go Red For Women, a group that works to promote awareness about a major issue that affects many women in the United States: heart disease.
“Paint Your Heart Out” is a new event for Go Red For Women, which has been deemed successful. Deb Sutton, who helped to organize the event, explained that the idea for this event came about as a way to help raise more money for the American Heart Association.
“We’re doing a heart door-hanging painting,” said Sutton. “Overall this has been a success. We had 27 people register for it, so for our first event, we thought that was pretty good. Go Red For Women raises awareness about heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.”
Sutton explained that her reason for becoming active in Go Red For Women, and with the American Heart Association is because her granddaughter was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and because her mother had a heart attack at a very early age.
“It’s very personal for me, but it affects so many more people,” Sutton said. “I don’t know of anyone this hasn’t affected in some way, shape or form. One of the things that they have done is they have worked to pass legislation to mandate oxygen testing on all newborns before they leave the hospital. That is one of the first ways to detect congenital heart abnormalities; that is something that would have detected my granddaughter’s condition.”
Jill Duis, chairperson of Go Red For Women, explained that they have had a great amount of support from Jefferson County, since the group formed. She emphasized that women experience different symptoms of heart conditions than men experience, which is why she believes it is important to educate people.
“We have to educate women about what the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke are, because they are often the decision makers for health care in their families,” said Duis. “It’s a great cause, and it’s a lot of fun when we get together. We do this to raise awareness.”
Duis explained that all of the money collected during their events go directly to the American Heart Association, which utilizes that money for research.
“People always ask ‘how does research benefit what we do?’, and I am a living example of what research can do. They developed something called a pacemaker defibrillator, which is a device that is inserted into someone who has a problem with the electrical conduction in the heart. I have that device. If I didn’t have that device, I don’t know that I would be here today.”
On Feb. 18, Go Red For Women will host its celebrity waiter event at the Fairbury Elks Lodge. She stated that tickets are still available, and people can purchase those tickets by contacting Jefferson Community Health Center. She explained that Jefferson County, especially Fairbury, has been very supportive of Go Red For Women’s events.
“A credit to the county and to the community is that Fairbury was the top community in the state for fundraising for a community of its size,” Duis said. “One of things we do is plant the seed of awareness for heart disease through these events. At every event we have survivors come to speak. When you plant a seed, you like to see it grow. Our celebrity waiter event has grown so much that it has outgrown the location we had it at.”
Duis encourages people to contact her and Erin Starr at Jefferson Community Health Center for more information about heart disease and Go Red For Women.