“Our whole aim of the Wear Red Day Heart Health Event is to illuminate the issue of heart disease, which you know is the number-one killer of Americans, the number-one killer of all women and that Black women are most at risk amongst all women,” says Lisa Peyton-Caire, the founder and CEO of The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness. “We die at higher rates and we are impacted by cardiovascular disease at younger ages. It’s just a critical, urgent topic to continue to discuss.”
The goal of the 10th Annual Wear Red Day Heart Health Event & Celebration, which will once again be hosted by The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness on Saturday, Feb. 20, 10 a.m.-noon, will be to educate women about heart disease and to teach them tips to protect their heart health from expert guest speakers and presenters.
“I’m so excited that this is the 10th year of hosting the event,” Peyton-Caire tells Madison365. “You look back and you don’t realize the time that is passing so it’s really a milestone to be able to say that we’ve been hosting this very educational event for a decade now.
“I remember the first one that I hosted in the community room of the Urban League [of Greater Madison] with about 10-12 women and it is wonderful how it has grown into one of our most important annual education events where we are really working to prevent heart disease and to support women who have already been diagnosed to know that they can live a healthy life by managing the condition better.”
Normally a large gathering of women at Fountain of Life Church wearing a sea of red clothing, this year’s Wear Red Day Heart Health Event will be virtual, hosted on Zoom, and live-streamed on Facebook.
“We will really miss the in-person gathering that happens annually at this event and makes it one of the more exciting events of the year,” Peyton Caire says. “It’s a joyful, jubilant event with women dressed in red. However, because of COVID, we have been forced to move to virtual space. It does offer the opportunity for women to engage personally and directly on their screens and really focus in on the information we are sharing and to ask as many questions as they want in the chat. We can answer those questions in real-time.”
February is National Heart Month and the perfect time for women to assess their heart health. But February is also normally a tough, cold month for many people in the heart of winter. Especially during the pandemic, it has made things worse for a lot of women both physically and psychologically, who may feel isolated and alone at times. In that respect, the Wear Red Day Heart Health Event comes at the perfect time.
“We were absolutely clear that we were not going to cancel this event this year because of the pandemic. The social isolation has hit everybody hard and women really need that community of sisterhood and they love that they can get that at an event like this where we are learning and growing together,” Peyton-Caire says. “Even being home in isolation in the middle of winter in the middle of a pandemic, they know that they are connected to the outside world and to women who are moving in the same direction as them.”
Peyton-Caire hopes women join her foundation at the online event dressed in their red best or red work-out gear as they work together to fight against heart disease in women.
“We’re proud of this event because we know that it saves lives,” she says. “We have the stories of women who tell us each year that there was something said or a piece of information that was shared that kicked in with them in a critical moment where they were struggling with their health and it made the difference and saved their lives.”
Peyton-Caire gave the example of Shahanna McKinney Baldon, who shared on Facebook recently about how a year ago she didn’t feel right and she heard a voice in her mind saying, “Black Woman, If something feels off, trust your body and get to the doctor.”
“I drove myself to urgent care, and they promptly rushed me to the ER in an ambulance. If I hadn’t gone to the doctor that day, I would have likely died within several months,” McKinney Baldon wrote. “That voice in my head was the voice of Lisa Peyton Caire, and it was a message I had heard from her at an event for The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness several years prior.”
Peyton-Caire says that it’s often the case that sometimes women find themselves more at risk because “we don’t act on those early symptoms.”
“We don’t take seriously the messages our bodies are giving you and we wait and we assume it to be something else,” she says. “I’ve heard that story way too often over the years where women will interpret their symptoms to mean one thing and then they go home and lay down and have a heart attack or a stroke.
“Some women, luckily, recover. But some never wake up,” she adds. “This is one of the reasons that we continue to host the Wear Red Day Heart Health Event.”
The 10th Annual Wear Red Day Heart Health Event & Celebration will feature a powerful panel discussion with Dr. Sandy Charles, a board-certified cardiologist and medical director of the Novant Health Women’s Heart & Vascular Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“She will talk about all the ways that women can prevent heart disease by practicing these healthy habits – how they eat, how they move, how they speak with their doctor, how they understand their family history, and more. It will just be packed with information,” Peyton-Caire says.
Rev. Veloris Brooks, a heart attack survivor and pastor of Spirit & Truth Ministries in Milwaukee, will also speak at the event. Coach Venus Washington of Venus Inspires Health & Wellness will lead a live fitness segment.
“Venus always drops tidbits of education as she is teaching women in the movement class and with that women leave knowing how they can get started at home with applying these things that they’ve learned and have been able to ask questions about,” Peyton-Caire says.
Sponsors of the event include UW Health, MG&E, WPS Health Solutions and Wisconsin Well Woman Program. The Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Kappa Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. are providing partner support.
“We want women to leave this event with education and information that empowers them not only to read their symptoms and interpret what they are feeling in their bodies, but how to talk to their doctor and what other practical daily life changes they can make in their wellness routine to decrease their risk and to build healthier heart health,” Peyton-Caire says.
“We’re very excited about it. As always, it’s a free event,” she adds. “It’s really designed for women of all ages – women in their teens to their teen years. As always – like all of our work – this is a multi-generational event. We know that if you educate a mother, that education spills over into all of her family and makes healthier families.”
The 10th Annual Wear Red Day Heart Health Event & Celebration will close with several prize giveaways including “Best Dressed,” “Most Engaged Attendee,” and more.
“We’re going to make this as fun as possible. We’re going to ask women to still dress in their most vibrant red,” Peyton-Caire says. “We are looking forward to seeing their faces on the screen and we celebrate every woman that signs in and checks in and remind them that we see them and that we are here for them and that there is a whole community out here that they are still connected to.”
To register for the 10th Annual Wear Red Day Heart Health Event & Celebration, click here.