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You will see a lot of red around Shelby County today, in businesses, in schools and just on the streets.
That’s because today is Go Red Day, a national day of elevating the message that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, a movement being embraced by businesses across Shelbyville.
This national effort started on the first Friday of February – national heart month – spread nationally and rooted in Shelby County about six years ago, and you can see just on Main Street and at schools that this mission to educate women is spiraling.
“When I found out that heart disease was the number one killer of women, I was astounded,” said Mary Jo Newton, president of the Shelby County Professional Women’s Club and a 5-year participant in Go Red Day. “I had no idea this was the case. I thought heart disease occurred mostly in men.”
That perception is why Go Red Day was established, and Peggy Tschauner, owner of Shelby Fit For Life is one of those who understands what the day is all about – from both personal and professional experience.
“My mother is a heart attack survivor and turns 82 years old this month,” Tschauner said. “Six years ago she was aware of the ‘silent women's symptoms’ when they hit – jaw pain, arm pain and tiredness. Instead of brushing them off, she went to the doctor.
“Both her parents died of heart attacks with ‘no warning.’ Now we know the risk factors, and as a health professional, it's part of my passion to spread the word.”
Tschauner said she first became of the Go Red Day 8 years ago when she was a wellness director in a senior community.
“I became aware of Go Red Day in California while shopping at my local Macy's,” she said “Macy's was a national sponsor from Day One. I explained that I was a wellness director at a senior community, got a bunch of red dress pins and held a ‘Wear Red Day’ event at work, where we honored heart attack survivors.”
She brought that effort with her to Shelbyville, and Fit For Life is the host of the annual Go Red Luncheon (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) where diners can contribute to the cause and win prizes.
The Shelby County Professional Women’s club became part of the movement in 2005, when it took over sponsorship.
“I think the business community is embracing this effort because we all have a mother, sister or friend that could die if we don't get the word out that heart disease kills,” said Newton, who is an agent for Shelby County Farm Bureau.
This year, the club spread the word and challenged both schools and businesses to be part of the movement.
“We contacted both high schools, the college [Jefferson Community & Technical College, Shelby Campus], Commonwealth Bank & Trust and Citizens Union Bank and most of the local business's downtown,” she said. “We asked them to decorate their business and to offer some incentive for everyone to wear red on February fourth.”
Tschauner said there are 20 businesses involved in Go Red. “These are hard times, for small businesses especially,” she said. “Any promotion is helpful and showing that your business has a ‘heart’ – pun intended – is good for your professional image.”
Newton said the two banks are raising funds by allowing their employees to wear jeans on Friday for a $5 donation for each employee to the American Heart Association. That all will culminate at today’s luncheon.
“I really believe that if people have fun and get to celebrate something, they pay more attention,” Tschauner said. “That's why the Shelby County Professional Women's Club and Shelby Fit for Life hold the annual luncheon – to give women a chance to dress up in red, win prizes and have some fun. We sneak in the education.”
Said Newton: “It is taking the life of one in three women each year. We want women to know their personal risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk.”
When: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. today
Where: Shelby Fit For Life
Address: 169 Alpine Drive, Shelbyville
Cost: Donation to American Heart Association