The American Heart Association has big plans to continue educating and helping the public in 2013.
The volunteer run nonprofit works to reduce death and disability from heart disease, said Diane Kemp, the American Heart Association regional chair.
This year’s events kick off from 8 to 10 a.m. Feb. 1 with Valpo Goes Red at Valparaiso University. It is designed for women and will focus on how to prevent heart disease and teach women how their cardiac event symptoms differ from a man’s, Kemp said.
Women of every age need to learn about heart disease, she said, because it’s the No. 1 cause of death for women 25 and older. “We want to make sure women understand.”
“Heart disease claims the life of every one in three Americans. It is the No. 1 cause of death of men and has been for decades. It is the No. 1 cause of death in women and congenital heart defects are the No. 1 birth defect in newborn babies. So there is no one in this country who has to look far to look into the eyes of someone whose heart has literally been touched by heart disease.
“The disease impacts so many people that it’s critically imperative that our science moves forward.”
Kemp said they are appreciative of Strack & Van Til’s efforts planned for February, when all of its locations will elevate awareness for the campaign.
In April the association will host its annual gala, which celebrates the lives saved and improved by the group as well as the work, mission, donors and volunteers. “That’s where we transform the Radisson hotel celebrity ballroom into an evening of understanding what the American Heart Association does for Northwest Indiana and how we impact their lives.”
Also in spring, the association will host its first Gary Goes Red for Women May 10 at Marquette Park.
“We’re very excited about that. We will be screening hundreds of women and identifying their risk factors for heart disease.”
On May 16, the nonprofit organization will return to the Radisson in Merrillville to host a Go Red for Women education symposium.
June 1 kicks off a program called My Heart My Life, where the group will work with companies across the region.
“That campaign elevates the importance of exercise and healthy eating as two primary factors to reduce the risk of heart disease,” Kemp said. “All summer we’ll work hard on messaging that.”
In fall, efforts focus on the Heart Walk events taking place Sept. 7 at Lake County Fairgrounds and Sept. 28 at Porter County Coffee Creek in Chesterton.
Throughout the year, Northwest Indiana communities will continue to see the association work to expand screening programs, teaching gardens in elementary schools as well as walking paths throughout the community.
The paths, which are currently available in Portage and East Chicago, are aligned with powerful educational messaging, Kemp said. One message reads “a study concluded that for every two hours of cardiovascular exercise, one can expect one hour of life expectancy added to their life.”
“So there is true incentive for embracing an exercise regimen and being faithful to that,” she said.
The walking paths are a new program and plans are to expand them to more locations. The elementary school teaching gardens launched last year and are in Whiting, Hammond, Hobart and Portage.
None of these programs are possible without donations, Kemp said naming ArcelorMittal, NIPSCO and Methodist Hospitals as the premier sponsors for funding in Northwest Indiana.
“Without those three, these events would not take place for us to raise these dollars and reach out to thousands of people in Northwest Indiana.”
Volunteers for the calendar of events and sponsors are always needed. Call (219) 996-4958 for more information on how to help. Visit heart.org for life-changing tips and educational resources.