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Go Red for Women Luncheon focuses on family, legacy

May 24, 2019

Two prominent themes, family and legacy, were on display throughout the 15th annual Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Post Oak Hotel on Friday, May 17.

Houston opened its heart in honor of women who suffer from heart disease and its effects. Funds raised are likely to exceed $2 million for the first time - truly a record-breaking year. These donations help the American Heart Association advance its mission to be a force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

Featured speaker Barbara Pierce Bush, granddaughter of Barbara and George H.W. Bush, and daughter of Laura and George W. Bush, followed in the footsteps of her grandmother when she addressed the crowd. The former First Lady Barbara Bush spoke at the Go Red for Women Luncheon after her heart surgery in 2010. This year, talking with ABC 13’s Katherine Whaley, Barbara Bush’s granddaughter Barbara Pierce Bush described the moment she realized the power of advocacy in relation to women’s health.

“I remember a time I was with my mom, when she was on the ‘Today Show’ to talk about how important it is for women to get regular checkups,” Bush said. “A woman approached us afterward and thanked her. She had been inspired by my mom to see a doctor and get checked. That doctor made an early diagnosis allowing the woman to avoid surgery; all because of the impact of my mother’s words.”

Heart survivor Becky Yanez, who is also an American Heart Association employee, shared her battle with heart disease which left her unable to have children of her own. Despite her diagnosis, Yanez’s story ultimately is one of triumph with the recent adoption of a baby girl.

Dry eyes were few and far between when Yanez showed her new daughter to the audience. She then asked attendees who were moved by her story to donate to help the next person in need of life-saving heart procedures.

“I ask you to give in support of the girl who is told she can never dance again, or sing, or carry her own child,” Yanez said.

Yanez’s friends and co-workers at the American Heart Association also donated in her honor to recognize her dedication to the mission.

“It was a wonderful event,” said Chairwoman Hallie Vanderhider. “The stories we heard today, how we witnessed that heart disease doesn’t have to be the end of the story, it’s a tribute to the human spirit. The American Heart Association makes stories like this possible and I am so proud to be a part of it.”

The crowd of nearly 600 sat at tables adorned with either white or red napkins. Another poignant moment at the event came early in the program when those in the audience sitting at place settings with red napkins were asked to stand. Those standing represented the 1 in 3 women in the United States who die from heart-related illnesses. The reaction from the crowd was palpable and the room fell silent for several seconds as the importance of the American Heart Association’s mission became clear.

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