Go RED for Women
Tailgate in Red event shines spotlight on heart disease
The 2019-2020 football season may be over, but the American Heart Association doesn’t have an off-season. That means you still have a chance to tailgate.
On Thursday, Feb. 27, the AHA and its Go Red for Women campaign will take homefield advantage at the Shreveport Convention Center for an evening of fun, food and education for the entire family called Tailgate in Red. And they might just help you save someone’s life.
The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with a pep rally, naturally. Then there will be tailgate games like corn hole, sideline CPR, health screenings by Christus Health, a silent auction, jewelry pull and more. Attendees will get to view the Strokes for Stroke art exhibit painted by stroke survivors. Then at 7 p.m., it’s game on with dinner and a program, but the dinner will be unique in that you’ll visit a variety of heart-healthy tailgate stations for your supper.
Jill Lucero is the AHA’s regional director and said she’s excited to offer something unusual for people this year. “There are six different dinner stations. You’re going to get to choose what you want to eat. It’s casual this year,” she said. “You can wear jeans and a red shirt. We have a football throw, but you have to do it with your non-dominant hand to simulate a stroke.”
Sudden cardiac arrest is the major issue to be tackled at this year’s tailgate.
Writer, director and filmmaker Rob Smat will tell his personal story and share highlights from his movie “The Last Whistle.” Smat said he based the film on his experiences playing high school football. “Players would collapse at area schools every season. It was always alarming, because we never knew why it happened, except that it usually wasn’t something that could be protected with helmets and pads like other injuries.” According to the AHA, unrecognized cardiovascular disorders, such as Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and others, are conditions that can affect young athletes in any sport. It is reported that such events result in the death of a young person every three days in the United States.
Also at the event will be Kristen Cobb- Simpson, an advocate for the CPR in Schools legislation that passed after her nephew, Burke Cobb, died on the basketball court at his high school of a sudden cardiac arrest when he was 15. She will share her family story and how Louisiana came to be a CPR in Schools state, where every public school student must have a CPR class before graduating.
“You can’t see heart disease,” Lucero said. The purpose of the event is building awareness and raising funds necessary to support research and education initiatives taking place in our community. According to statistics, one in three women will get heart disease. It is the number one cause of death in all Americans. Stroke is number five.
There will also be the opportunity to hear about research taking place at LSU Health Science Center in Shreveport and meet the researchers behind the projects. Those projects have been funded this year with over $1 million in grants from the American Heart Association.
The Tailgate in Red is part of the annual Go Red for Women events. The movement started about 15 years ago because, according to Lucero, women were not aware of their risk of heart disease. “Women tend to take care of themselves last,” she said. “A lot of women may have known something was wrong, but they were not addressing the issues. This movement gave them, almost, permission, if you would, to address those issues and make it more prevalent.”
And coming up on May 2 will be the Northwest Louisiana Heart Walk, a fundraiser kicking off from Shreveport’s Festival Plaza.
But tailgating, walking and heart education are not the only things on the AHA’s calendar, according to Lucero. “We put in sidewalks for safe paths to school. We have two walking paths here, one in Bossier City.” The AHA also has a program of food access, where people in rural areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables are assisted in finding healthy foods. Lucero noted that some parts of local parishes are so rural they are referred to as food deserts.
“The American Heart Association does so many things other than just research to help people live a healthy, prosperous life,” she said.
For more information on these and other AHA projects throughout the year and sponsorship opportunities for local events, go to www.heart.org/en/affiliates/louisiana/northwest-louisiana.