Originally Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2012, 7:44 am
Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2012, 11:30 am

Go Red event aims at inspiring women to 'Take Action!'

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By Laura Anderson Shaw, landerson@qconline.com

Chelsea Hillman used to be an all-or-nothing type of gal.

"If I couldn't work out every day this week, then I would just give up because I 'failed,'" the Davenport woman said in an email.

But not anymore.

Ms. Hillman took an accountability pledge as part of this year's American Heart Association's Go Red for Women event, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the RiverCenter in Davenport.

Go Red for Women is a national campaign that kicked off in 2004 to educate women about their risk of stroke and heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women, and what they can do to better their health.

The theme for this year's event is"Lights, Camera, Take Action!" and like many other Quad-Citians, Ms. Hillman is doing just that: taking action.

She said she has been involved with Go Red for four years, and this is her second year co-chairing the event's communications committee with Erin Lounsberry, Trinity Regional Health System's public-relations manager.

With other committee members, Ms. Hillman set her individual "Take Action" commitment: Exercise three times a week, and limit her consumption of Diet Dr Pepper to one can per day.

"I love Diet Dr Pepper and have convinced myself it's OK because it's 'diet,'" she said. "But you still are consuming phosphates" and other things, she said, "even though there aren't any calories."

Now, she drinks one can of Diet Dr Pepper each day, and replaces the additional four or five cans she used to drink with water.

"I've been mostly successful," she said. "Some days are good days, and some are bad."

Sharing her experiences with committee members who have taken similar pledges has been very helpful, she said.

It "has made me put the pop back in the fridge a time or two, knowing that I'll have to admit it to others, or squeeze in that walk when things are a little crazy," she said.

In addition, her commitment helps her to put the idea of a "lifestyle change" into perspective.

"I'm looking to change habits to become more heart healthy," she said, "not have a perfect record."

Committee members hope those who are taking action will inspire the women at the event to do the same.

One of the event's main messages is prevention, said Kate Cuellar, regional director of the
American Heart Association.

"There's not a more relevant cause than educating women on heart disease since it is our No. 1 killer," she said.

The Go Red event will include a vendor fair, silent auction, healthy meal, stories from area women affected by heart disease, and a presentation about prevention. "Our ultimate goal is to give the women tools to empower them to go out and make a change with their own heart health," Ms. Cuellar said.

In its first year, the local event drew about 150 women and raised just over $30,000, Ms. Cuellar said. Last year, 550 women attended the event, and $135,000 was raised. Proceeds from the event support cardiovascular research and education for women.

Doors for the Go Red for Women luncheon will open at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the RiverCenter, 136 3rd St., Davenport. Educational sessions will begin at 11 a.m., and lunch and the keynote speaker's program will begin at noon.

Tickets are $35 and may be purchased online at quadcitiesgoredforwomen.org. For more information, contact the American Heart Association office at (563) 323-4321 or Kate.Cuellar@heart.org.