August 24, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 16
I’m back! After a few days recovery from jet lag, everything is all too normal, all too fast. Oh, for the days of exploring castles and cathedrals, swimming with grandchildren and hunting for treasures in shops along cobblestone streets. I highly recommend a week at a remote hilltop villa in Tuscany for a vacation (our only visitors were sheep and my most welcome interruption, the sound of the church bells tolling). And doing it as a family gathering was the best part of it all.
Some people have been working this summer, like Emily Lard, of the Cardiology Associates Foundation in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and her bevy of volunteers. They put on a “You’ve Gotta Have Heart,” Red Dress event this month with a gala and fashion show that included an education piece featuring Tracey Conway as their speaker.
A serious note about Emily: As I was writing this yesterday and arranging to get photos from her, she casually mentioned in her email that she’d be having heart surgery this morning so she’d be off email for a couple of days. I don’t have any other details, just thought I’d ask our readers for their prayer support for our colleague. As you’ll read here, she’s a dynamo with a heart of gold.
Give Women What They Love and A Dose of Education, Too
The power of the red dress was evident in Jonesboro, Arkansas on August 11-12, when Cardiology Associates Foundation (CAF) held their 2006 Red Dress event with a gala, fashion show, celebrities and speakers. These women really know how to put on an event.
In 2004, the Foundation’s first year, they introduced The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign (created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute) to the Jonesboro community. “Since then, we’ve decided to do it every other year,” Emily Lard, who is in charge of the CAF program , told me. “It’s a lot of work to put together but it’s an outstanding way to raise awareness of women and heart disease by combining education with the things women love best — top of the line fashion designs, exquisite jewelry, one-on-one time with key entertainment stars, gift bags — what more can they ask for!”
The centerpiece of “The Heart Truth” initiative is the Red Dress, which was introduced as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness at the campaign’s launch in 2002. The Red Dress symbol was created to remind women of the need to protect their heart health and to inspire them to take action.
This year’s Red Dress events in Jonesboro, included a Friday evening gala for couples attended by 300 and a fashion event on Saturday afternoon that attracted 350 women. The Saturday event included education about cardiovascular health along with the glitz and glamour of a fashion show.
“These events are fundraisers and educational,” Emily stressed. “We brought in a selection from the national red dress designs which are made by the nation’s top designers and introduced each February at Olympus Fashion Week in New York City. Locally, two specialty clothing stores featured designs by popular top designers and a locally owned specialty jewelry store brought in an entire line of fine jewelry valued at over $2 million dollars.
“Our fashion show featured television and Broadway actress and cosmetics entrepreneur Catherine Hickland, who sang the show’s title song ‘You’ve Gotta Have Heart,’” Emily said.
“After the fashion extravaganza, our guest speaker was Tracey Conway, a comedienne, actress and survivor of a heart arrhythmia. The women were entranced by Tracey’s story of how she literally dropped dead and was successfully resuscitated out of hospital with full brain function and lived to tell her story, which she does in a most dynamic way, I must add.
“Anyone who has the ability to tell that she has arrhythmia to the tune of ‘I’ve Got Rhythm,’ can keep a person’s attention!” Emily said. “She was entertaining, educational, and very personable. She was also a pleasure to work with in planning the event – very responsive and she did her homework about our community. I got lots of emails wanting to have her back.
“We were also pleased that having Tracey gave us the opportunity to not only promote awareness of women and heart disease but to also stress the importance of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) placement and CPR training, both of which are prime initiatives of our Foundation and the use of the money we raise,” Emily continued.
The admiration was mutual. Tracey had this to say about her visit: “CAF of Jonesboro, you are superstars in the world of women’s heart health! Your Red Dress ‘You’ve Gotta Have Heart’ event was classy, fun and extremely professionally produced. Who could resist gorgeous clothes, infectious music and seeing Catherine Hickland live? Thank you for inviting me to share my story, and help educate your community about the prevalence of heart disease in women, particularly the devastating effects of sudden cardiac arrest. Southern hospitality lives on with Emily Lard and her outstanding crew.”
Emily said they had wonderful cooperation from their local media in promoting the event. The newspaper ran a series, one part each Sunday for three weeks, along with their advertisements. The radio station produced two commercials, which it ran about 25 times daily and did several live interviews with local guests as well as phone interviews with entertainment. Both media were recognized as event sponsors in print and verbally.
“We appeared on five different occasions on the local television live interview morning, noon and evening segments,” Emily said. “We also sent out personal invitations to the gala, and sent out an announcement for the fashion event. Our event was featured as the cover story in one of our local society magazines, ‘Occasions,’ for the month of August and we ran ads in the magazine in July and August.”
The event is planned and implemented by the Red Dress Fashion Committee, a subcommittee of the Cardiology Associates Foundation Education Committee, that is made up of about 40 women volunteers who give their time and energy to insure all of their annual events are successful.
The mission of the Cardiology Associates of Northeast Arkansas, P.A. Foundation is to assist in reducing death and disability from cardiovascular diseases (Arkansas’ and the nation’s number one killer) in Northeast Arkansas and Southwest Missouri, and to provide medication assistance to those in need. The Foundation provides cardiovascular education programs that teach the community’s citizens how to identify, prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.
The Foundation’s areas of emphasis are in Women and Heart Disease, Children and Cardiovascular Health, Corporate Cardiovascular Health, Medication Assistance Program and the AED (Defibrillator) Placement Program. All monies raised through Foundation events stay in the local communities.
You can learn all about how to bring the Red Dress Project to your community, including an on-line toolkit here.
Italian Farmer’s Market – Where’re the Berries?
I got to do one of my favorite things in Italy. As luck would have it, our first Monday morning in Tuscany was also Farmer’s Market Day in Chiusi, the nearest real town to our hilltop haven. One carload of venturesome and curious shoppers deployed to gather a week’s worth of veggies, cheese, some fresh bread and meat. (Well, three days’ worth is all it turned out to supply for a party of 11!)
What we weren’t prepared for was the other market vendors. Let’s see, we came away with a set of fabulously colorful dishtowels, two tablecloths, my husband’s bright cotton shirt and a leather belt. That means we successfully bypassed all the shoes, clothing, purses, household wares, etc., etc., etc. Oh yes, did I forget sewing notions? It was an old-fashioned market with a definitely commercial twist.
Nonetheless, we had fun making our choices and navigating the language – primarily by pointing — and got our tomatoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, fresh greens, arugula, onions, pears, peaches, cheese, basil plant and fresh pasta, of course. The only thing missing was the berries. No blueberries and blackberries that our markets are so loaded with here. I think that’s because the countryside is primarily planted in grapevines, sunflowers and olive trees! And, I have to add, the landscape those crops create is beautiful to behold!
And gelato! Oh gelato. The best part of sightseeing was the daily gelato break – chocolate, peach, pistachio, hazelnut — these were some of the flavors we sampled of that yummy, Italian ice cream in a cone or a dish.
So, we’re back and looking forward to bringing you more great stories, health headlines and speaker ideas this fall as the meeting season heats up.
Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.