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Orange County Go Red For Women Luncheon raises more than $350,000

Melissa Wilimas, Executive Director, American Heart Association Orange County Division; Aimee Weisner, Corporate Vice President, General Counsel, Edwards Lifesciences and immediate past chairwoman; Christine McCauley, Corporate Vice President, Human
Melissa Wilimas, Executive Director, American Heart Association Orange County Division; Aimee Weisner, Corporate Vice President, General Counsel, Edwards Lifesciences and immediate past chairwoman; Christine McCauley, Corporate Vice President, Human

More than 500 community leaders celebrated heart health at the Orange County Go Red For Women Luncheon held on Feb. 7, 2014 at The Island Hotel in Newport Beach. The event raised $354,500 for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign designed to raise awareness of heart disease – the No. 1 killer of women – and empower women to live healthier lives.

“Working for a company focused on heart valve innovations, I meet and hear many stories about patients…patients who become a part of me and remind me every single day that heart disease is their number one killer,” said Christine McCauley, corporate vice president, human resources at Edwards Lifesciences. “As chairwoman of the 2014 Go Red For Women luncheon, these stories took on even greater meaning, and I feel proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

The luncheon program started with toasts led by 10 local heart disease and stroke survivors commemorating the 10th anniversary of Go Red For Women in Orange County and highlighting some of the successes in the fight against heart disease over the past decade.

“Raise your glass and toast to the 650,000 women’s lives that have been saved since the inception of Go Red For Women in 2004,” said Diane Graf, a heart disease and stroke survivor.

Judy Brandt, also a heart disease survivor said, “Keep those glasses raised because 90 percent of women who have joined Go Red have made at least one behavior change to live healthier lives.”

Najla DeBow, the passion speaker, took the audience 10 years back when she suffered a heart attack. DeBow lived a healthy lifestyle and was not considered to be a typical candidate for a heart attack, but she has a history of heart disease in her family. “Every female on my mother’s side died from heart disease,” she said. Like many women, DeBow dismissed her symptoms as anything but heart attack warning signs.

“The story is different now, 10 years later. Because of Go Red For Women, more women know that their No. 1 health threat is heart disease. More women know the signs of a heart attack. These are all things I wish the women before me could have known. Maybe I wouldn’t have been the only woman in my family who has survived heart disease. I’m grateful for all the American Heart Association has done and hopeful for the future,” DeBow said.

Cindy Burns of the Funniest Housewives of Orange County brought the house down with her comedy routine.

Before the luncheon got underway, guests bid on purses and jewelry during the silent auction and attended a question and answer session with heart disease and stroke experts hosted by UC Irvine Health, as well as a panel discussion hosted by Edwards Lifesciences on the topic of women and philanthropy.

Luncheon attendees also had fun at the Picture and a Promise booth where they took a picture demonstrating a promise to love their heart and start living a healthier lifestyle. The photograph will be emailed to the participants as a reminder of their promise. 

The Go Red For Women Luncheon is sponsored nationally by Macy’s and locally sponsored by presenting sponsor The Edwards Lifesciences Fund; heart of gold sponsors Datron, Specialized Marketing Services and UC Irvine Health; silver sponsors Abbott Medical Optics and MicroVention Terumo; and bronze sponsors AMSolutions Group, Baxter Credit Union, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, St. Joseph Health and Roth Staffing Companies.

Go Red For Women gives women a fighting chance against heart disease by helping them understand their common killer, take action, and be the difference between life and death. It offers educational programs to advance women’s understanding of their risk for heart disease and provides tools to help women live healthier, stronger lives. For more information, visit www.GoRedForWomen.org.

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About Go Red For Women

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement, created by women, for women, dedicated to uncovering the truth about women and heart disease: heart disease can kill you or a woman you love.  With more women dying of cardiovascular disease than the next three causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer, we are committed to fighting this No. 1 killer that is preventable. GoRedForWomen.org, a premier source of information and education, connects millions of women of all ages and gives them tangible resources to turn personal choices into life-saving actions. We encourage women and the men who love them to embrace the cause. For more information please visit GoRedForWomen.org or call 1-888-MY-HEART (1-888-694-3278). The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement is nationally sponsored by Macy’s, with additional support from Orange County sponsor Edwards Lifesciences.

About the American Heart Association 
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or join us, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of our offices around the country, or visit heart.org.

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