The 2023 Wear Red Day celebration, an annual event hosted by the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, will be held this year at the Goodman Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 18.
This will be the 12th annual event and the first in-person Wear Red Day celebration since the start of the pandemic. It’s a day of camaraderie and sisterhood while raising awareness and educating women about heart disease and learning tips and strategies to protect heart health from expert guest speakers and presenters.
“The thing that tears me up about this event is the fact that women from all over the world, all over the nation, and all over Madison are coming together because they recognize and understand the importance of taking care of themselves,” Christine M. Russell, director of health and wellness programs for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, tells Madison365. “They are taking this time and they’re putting themselves first because they realize that ‘Hey, if I don’t take care of myself and put myself as a priority, I can’t do all the other things that are important to me and take care of all the other people that are counting on me. I have to put myself first.'”
The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, is a Madison-area non-profit organization committed to mobilizing African American women to pursue and sustain mind-body-spirit wellness, and to raise the visibility and support of Black women’s health as a community and public health priority. The organization’s annual Wear Red Day celebration was started by Foundation For Black Women’s Wellness founder and CEO Lisa Peyton-Caire in honor of her mother, Roberta Peyton, who died of congestive heart failure in 2006 at the age of 64. She battled the disease for more than 15 years.
“But from that loss, Lisa has really created this movement – not just this Wear Red Day event, but the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness as a whole,” Russell says. “And so she’s been able to impact the lives of thousands of women through the work that she’s doing through events and programming and resources … really trying to take control and regain control over our lives as women in the Black community.”
On Wear Red Day, the focus for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness will be on the leading health risk for the death of Black women — cardiovascular disease.
“We have to take that as a personal attack, right? Yes, this is a beautiful day of women getting together and wearing red and learning and being together, but it’s also a way to kind of arm up together. Because if someone was breaking into your home, you wouldn’t take that sitting down, … you would boot up and do what’s necessary to protect you and yours. And that is how I see Wear Red Day. We’re coming together. We’re joining forces to say: what can we do as women in the Black community to protect ourselves and generations to come because of what we’re seeing?
“The statistics around cardiovascular disease in our community, it just gives me chills every time I read them,” she adds. “So we’re looking at nearly 50,000 Black women losing their lives every single year due to cardiovascular disease. The underlying message of Wear Red Day is that we’re here to save our lives together because we have to do this together.”
Women are encouraged to dress up in their favorite red outfits for Wear Red Day. Hedi Rudd of Hedi Lamarr Photography will once again be taking photos at the event.
Dr. Eva Vivian of the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, who is also president of the African American Health Network of Dane County, will be the keynote speaker.
“We are just thrilled to have Dr. Vivian as our keynote speaker. Number one, because she is just brilliant with her work with the African American Health Network of Dane County and the UW School of Pharmacy,” Russell says. “But also because we are actually partnering with her on the Hope Project, a year-long diabetes prevention program for grandmothers. So I think it’s really going to be a beautiful synergy with her there as our keynote.”
Other featured presenters will include Diamond Wimbley, a Well Black Woman® Institute fellow and heart health advocate and Alia Stevenson, a survivor of cardiovascular disease and FFBW chief development and partnerships officer. Peyton-Caire will deliver the opening remarks to kick off the event.
Russell will lead women on a fitness break.
“I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. As I was planning what kind of fitness experience I wanted to provide with a demographic of women ages 12 to 75, I determined that I was going to be focusing on ADLs which are activities for daily living,” Russell says. “How can we enhance our ability to get up and sit down? How can we enhance our ability to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath? How can we enhance our ability to get in and out of a vehicle?
“Our ADLs are really our way of assessing our fitness level as we age,” she continues. “So I’m in my 30s and sometimes I have a hard time going up and down the stairs. So that is a trigger for me to say I may need to focus on this a little bit more. I’m excited to put it together in a really fun way for the event.”
February is National Heart Month and the perfect time for women to not only assess their heart health, but to gain the resources and the connections to stay healthy year-round.
“We are very excited to able to provide an event and experience for women to feel special and beautiful and cared for and nurtured …it makes me emotional. It really does,” Russell says. “I think being a part of this is really special and to see the work that Lisa has done over the years and how it’s evolved over time and how we are now creating this global footprint when it comes to cardiovascular disease in Black women’s health.”
The in-person Wear Red Day event is sold out but people can still register and join on the live stream. To register for the 12th Annual Wear Red Day Heart Health Event & Celebration, click here.