Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red's a good color for us

Hello and welcome to February. My fellow Pennsylvanian, Punxsutawney Phil, has officially not seen his shadow, which means that spring is nigh; the multiple snow and ice storms to which we've recently been subjected tell me otherwise, but I digress. Valentine's Day is imminent, as is Genericon, and this year, some giant football event is happening on the first Sunday of the month. Furthermore, according to the good folks at, this is National National Awareness Month Awareness Month -- that is, a month dedicated to being aware of awareness. I think. I've never seen anything quite so shaped like itself.

Apparently, though, February is also the designated awareness month for heart disease in the United States. And tomorrow, February 4th, is National Go Red For Women day, a special fundraising day set aside for women to fight heart disease by raising money for the American Heart Association.

This little phenomenon was first brought to my attention a couple years ago while I was still working for the church. Shelly, who works in the church day care, is an avid supporter of GRFWDay, and participates every year in the local walkathon to raise money. I would contribute, but I didn't pay as much attention as maybe I should.

Here are some hard facts about GRFW and heart disease:
  • Nearly half a million American women die of heart disease each year.
  • Many women ignore the threat of heart disease, and even dismiss it as being an "older men's disease."
  • Because so many people think of heart disease as being something that targets men, research has skewed toward helping them, which has created something of a lack of understanding of how to prevent and treat heart disease in women. This program hopes to change that.
  • In 2010, the American Heart Association set a strategic goal of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20% while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by the year 2020.
  • Since the GRFW program begain, almost one million women have joined, with substantial improvements in the way they take care of their health.
I'm one of those people who always sort of thought of it as being something that affects older men; I lost my oft-mentioned grandfather to it a few years ago. But the truth is that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. And while the hardest thing in the world to change is someone's mind, GRFW is changing the way our society looks at the disease.

I admit I'm not always very good about wearing specific colors on designated days to show my support for whatever it is I'm supporting. So it's quite likely that tomorrow, I will forget to wear something red. (Besides, I'll be dogsitting tomorrow -- and dogs are color-blind, so they won't know.) But wearing red on February 4th is indeed one way to show your support for the GRFW movement. They're not even picky about the shade. Here are some other, possibly more tangible ways of helping this crucial project:
  • Become an advocate. Lobby for legislative action.
  • Organize a Wear Red Day where you work. It doesn't have to be tomorrow -- let's face it, that would probably be pretty hard to pull off if you're just planning it now.
  • Check the schedule to see when a Go Red Luncheon will be held near you. Join other concerned individuals in your area at a fundraiser meal for the GRFW project. They're happening all year long; the one nearest me is in May.
  • Watch a video. Campbell's (the yummy soup people) has pledged that for every video watched on that site between now and March 31st, they will contribute $1 to the GRFW movement, up to $625,000.
  • Go shopping. Yeah, I know some of you were hoping for that one! Throughout the month of February, Macy's will be selling special merchandise to benefit the GRFW movement. During February and the first half of March, purchasing certain red candles at Yankee Candle will also earn donations for the cause. Other businesses and merchandisers will be particpating in different ways to raise money for GRFW as well; here's the complete list.
  • Have a girls' night -- and guys too, why not? Call your friends and use the free information provided by GRFW to raise some money for the effort while enjoying each other's company. If you're like me and you require a modem to keep in touch with most of your social circle, don't panic -- you can even do it online.
Valentine's day is just ten days off. So let's just remember that while we're exchanging paper hearts with each other, we have to take care of the real ones too.

1 comment:

  1. EXCELLENT REMINDER. While everyone's so scared of cancer, they forget about the disease that's killed most of the women in our families, statistically. XOXOXOX



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