As the health and wellness coordinator for the Henderson County Family YMCA, many people in Henderson see Annette Garrison as a really healthy, in-shape person and would not suspect that she has a reason to be concerned about heart disease.  

“Because heart disease runs in my family, I have to make a conscious effort to exercise and watch what I eat,” she said. “I hope I can be a role model to others and show them that they too can prevent heart disease.”

Garrison was just one of several women who shared their stories of heart disease as they modeled clothing during Shades of Red, an event recently held at the Henderson County Extension Education and Expo Center.

The event started several years ago to raise awareness about heart disease in women. According to the National Institutes of Health, heart disease is the leading cause of disability and the No. 1 killer of American women.

Amanda Hardy, the Henderson County family and consumer sciences agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, has hosted the women’s heart health lunch and fashion show for the past three years.

“I hope people who attend learn to watch for the signs of a heart attack and go to the doctor as soon as possible after they recognize those signs,” she said. “Learning the signs of a heart attack could not only help to save their lives someday but the lives of a loved one.”

The featured speaker for the event was Julie Stucki, an exercise specialist who works with patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind. and a champion spokesperson for WomenHeart.

Stucki is a survivor of heart disease. At three months old, she was diagnosed with tetralogy of fallot, a congenital heart defect, and has undergone four open-heart surgeries.

“I’ve always exercised and eaten healthy because of my heart condition,” she said. “But because women spend a lot of time taking care of others, they don’t always take care of themselves. I want women to know that they do have a voice when it comes to fighting heart disease, and they need to use it.”

Event sponsors included UK Cooperative Extension Service, the First United Methodist Church, Golden Corral, Green River Health Department, Henderson County Diabetes Coalition, Methodist Hospital/Community Care Network, O’Daniel’s, The Gleaner, The Sandwich Shoppe, Goody’s Department Store, Fashion Bug and WSON-860 AM.