Central Texas’ commitment to women’s health has never felt stronger than it did at the 2023 Austin Go Red for Women Luncheon and Summit, presented by St. David’s HealthCare during American Heart Month. Behind the determined leadership of chairperson Denise Bradley, the Luncheon set a new fundraising record with over $400,000 raised to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change.
A record-number 420 attendees were delighted by keynote speaker Star Jones (lawyer/TV personality, Divorce Court) as she bravely shared her heart health journey. “They [flight attendants] tell you when you get on a plane to put your own oxygen mask on first. We, as women, need to be doing that with our heart health,” said Jones during her address. “If you can’t help yourself, you can’t help others.”
Denise Bradley, vice president of communications and community affairs at St. David’s, is passionate about the Go Red for Women movement for a number of reasons, but her family connection to heart disease and stroke was a driver early on. Denise’s mom survived two heart attacks and a stroke by the time she was 40. Those episodes led her to revamp her life, focusing on long walks and healthy eating to live more than three decades after her health scares.
Unfortunately, just over a year ago, she developed congestive heart failure and passed away after contracting COVID from a well-intentioned neighbor following her cardiac procedure.
“My mom left behind a legacy of steadfast faith, remarkable wisdom, unwavering strength and while we may have 4 brothers… it was the women in our family that she taught to be the strongest.”
One of those women was the events Open Your Heart Stroke Survivor, Laura Sammons. Laura is a former US Air Force JAG officer, talented singer, mother of five and current corporate attorney who has taken control of her health after a life-changing medical scare.
Attendees were encouraged to “Be the Beat” by emcees Kristen Currie and Jennifer Sanders from KXAN and learned how to perform Hands-Only CPR during the event. It is especially imperative for women to learn this simple two-step, lifesaving skill because women are less likely to receive bystander CPR due to fears of sexual assault or doing greater physical harm.
During the Summit leading up to the luncheon, attendees painted flowers during Strokes 4 Stroke, learned how to take and read their blood pressure, had a chance to practice Hands-Only CPR, heard from Dr. Caitlin Giesler and Dr. Kim DeStefano on women’s health and maternal health during breakout sessions and shopped the pop-ups featuring Kendra Scott, Brit & Belle and Soy Austin.
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the American Heart Association and the 20th year of Go Red for Women in Austin. The Go Red for Women movement, sponsored nationally by CVS Health, exists to increase women’s heart health awareness, and serves as a catalyst for change in the drive to improve the lives of all women. Find resources to support women’s heart heath at every age, through every stage of life at GoRedforWomen.org.