Healthy diet, healthy heart…you’ve heard the phrase before. Yet according to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States.
I get extremely passionate when I talk about this topic because of a promise I made to my grandmother, Ethel Lee Edwards, when I was just 16. I vowed to spend my life making healthier choices to avoid facing the consequences of cardiovascular disease. See, my grandmother, and I were the best of friends. She started having strokes, heart attacks and was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in my teens. Sadly, she was in her early 60′s when she died. There were many factors but mostly the complications of my grandmother’s death resulted from a poor diet and high-stress lifestyle. Seconds before she died, she once again encouraged me to take control of my health –heart and soul.
It’s a promise that I have honored, volunteering with the American Heart Association, participating in organizing several walks, and fundraising. This year I wanted to raise the bar and challenge myself even more.
February is National Heart Awareness month. It’s a time to recognize the many milestones accomplished in fight against cardiovascular disease, and also bring awareness to the steps we still need to take to truly make a dent in what remains to be Americas burden.
On the first Friday in February, also known as Go Red Day, women across the nation wear red to show their support to wipe out heart disease. I decided not only to wear red that Friday but everyday of that month. To say the least, it generated conversation. Everyday someone asked me, why do you keep wearing red…you must really like that color.
To be clear, red is NOT a color I like, but I wanted to do something…create a spark and it worked! People were engaged and energized about wiping out heart disease. I received several pledges for fundraising dollars and commitments to join the cause. In my heart and soul, I believe my grandmother would be proud.
Not a day goes by where I don’t wish my grandmother was still here with me. She would have been 89 today.
This year the Alabama Gulf Coast Heart Walk will take place on September 22, 2012, at the University of South Alabama. I certainly hope to see you there! Cardiovascular disease forever changed my life, but together we can triumph over this chronic illness.