Albany, New York – Sherri Roberts was 42 when she passed away from a heart attack in 2007. Lisa Silver was 38 when she had a stroke in 2008, while her best friend Christianne Smith was in the car she was driving.
Michele Kollmer and Christianne Smith are chairing the 2021 Go Red for Women campaign in honor of these two women, one a sister and one a friend. The campaign culminates in the Go Red for Women Luncheon, set for Friday, Nov. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Capital Center in Albany.
“I’m involved with Go Red for Women to educate people,” said Kollmer, Sherri Roberts’ sister and CAP COM at Work Relationship Manager. “I didn’t know that heart disease was a leading killer of women. Even when my sister passed away, I didn’t know.”
“I wish I had known that Lisa was having a stroke,” Smith, owner of Designsmith Studio, said. “I didn’t know what was happening; we went to Urgent Care and two hospitals, and it wasn’t until they performed a CT scan did we learn there was a brain bleed and blockage. Immediate action is key with a stroke to prevent damage.”
Lisa will share her story at the Go Red for Women Luncheon.
Kollmer has a personal understanding about chronic disease. She survived breast cancer in 1999, and three years ago, she was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, for which she had an ablation. But, like so many women, she initially questioned her symptoms.
“At first, I thought it was in my head,” Kollmer said. “I let it go a little bit, then I started to think about it. I was the same age my sister was when she had her heart attack. I got it checked, and I was having more AFib episodes than I knew. I’m glad I paid attention to my body. You know what? It’s ok if you think it’s in your head. Get it checked anyway. You know your body and when something is wrong. This is what Go Red is all about, educating people, especially women, about heart disease.”
Kollmer and Smith have volunteered with Go Red for women for the past four years, and have restructured some of the ways the volunteers work. They have worked together in the past – Kollmer worked at the American Cancer Society, where Smith chaired The Gala of Hope.
“We’ve worked on a succession plan to make sure that we can keep all of the Go Red initiatives moving forward,” Smith said. “There are many components to Go Red that are their own entity – the BetterU; the Circle of Red; Men Go Red for Women; Wear Red Day; Teen of Impact; Woman of Impact; the Purse-Onality auction. We have a lot of volunteers who have stepped forward to lead the fight against cardiovascular disease in women.”
Kollmer and Smith chaired the Men Go Red for Women committee in 2020, which raised $53,000.
“It’s great that we have so many men, spouses and significant others involved,” Smith said. “We need to keep growing this.”
Kollmer has been involved with Go Red’s BetterU group, a 12-week heart-health improvement program for 10 to 12 women that CAP COM sponsors.
“When I came to CAP COM four years ago, I learned that they needed someone to work with the AHA on BetterU. A light bulb went off,” Kollmer said. “I’m doing this for my sister and for me.”
Smith grew up in Charlton, graduated from Alfred University and lives in Saratoga Springs with her four-month-old daughter, Grace.
Kollmer, a Schenectady native who graduated from Russell Sage College, lives in Duanesburg with her husband Jim and their dog Teddy.
“We’re working with a wonderful group of women, helping to empower them, and raise awareness,” Smith said. “Go Red for Women fosters a shared appreciation for better living and helps us to be pro-active with our lives and our families’ lives rather than being reactive. Health has to be something we keep coming back to.”
Kollmer echoed the theme of empowerment.
“Go Red empowers us as women to help other women, to give other women a voice, who maybe don’t’ have a voice or who are afraid to use it,” she said. “If you can help just one person, you’ve done a good thing.”
Committee members joining Kollmer and Smith include:
Joy Lucas, DVM
For information, visit CapitalRegionNYGoRedLuncheon.heart.org or contact Sharon.Horton@heart.org; 518.888.1899.
- Facebook event page for Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon
About the 2021 Go Red for Women Luncheon
The 2021 Capital Region Go Red for Women Luncheon is set for Friday, Nov. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Capital Center in Albany. Michelle Kollmer, CAP COM At Work Relationship Manager, and Christianne Smith, principal, Designsmith Studios, are the co-chairs of the event. Subrina Dhammi of WNYT News Channel 13 is the emcee. The Festival of Red, including the Purse-Onality auction and breakout sessions, begins at 10:30, and lunch and the program start at noon. Maria Decker is the Jane Golub Crystal Heart Award Winner and survivor Lisa Silver will share her story. The Luncheon will celebrate the Men Go Red, the Teens of Impact, and the BetterU. Albany Med is the Life is Why sponsor. Local sponsors include CAP COM Federal Credit Union, SEFCU, Upstate Animal Medical Center, Neil and Jane Golub and MicroKnowledge/ProKnowledge. Media sponsors are WNYT News Channel 13, B 95.5 and Women@Work. For information about sponsorship or tickets, visit CapitalRegionNYGoRedLuncheon.heart.org or contact Sharon.Horton@heart.org.