On Thursday, June 17, 2021, the American Heart Association (AHA) of Greater Maryland hosted its annual Go Red for Women luncheon, digitally, for the second year in a row due to lingering COVID-19 restrictions. Regardless of the format, it remained a powerful time where, just shy of 100 ladies across Baltimore came together to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Raising more than $500,000 to further the life-saving work of the AHA, the event was inspirational, moving, and united all who attended with a common goal.
The event kicked off with the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Go Red for Women movement in Maryland. Guests had the opportunity to hear from ten of our dedicated volunteers who shared why they Go Red. Here are just a few excerpts from those stories:
Erica Roberts, Institutional Account Manager at Alexion – “I go red to continue to bring awareness, especially among the African American community. Studies show that only 36% of African American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.”
Nicki McCann, VP of Provider and Payer Transformation, Johns Hopkins Medicine – “I support the AHA for the work that they are doing to close a disparity gap. While cardiovascular disease impacts us all, there is a disproportionate impact on minorities and those who live in poverty.”
Kris Pratte, Director of Clearview Group – “My key in supporting Go Red for Women is to provide that education about women’s cardiac care. Had I not known that [women’s symptoms are different] I knew I was in trouble.”
Following these inspiring women guests heard from Nikki Palmer, Development Director at the American Heart Association, shared her incredible story of overcoming loss, finding hope and happiness, and now advocating for the same future for others.
Each year at the luncheon, the Lesia Bell Volunteer of the Year Award is awarded to a volunteer who exemplifies a commitment to the American Heart Association. The award was created in honor of Lesia Bell, a beloved volunteer at AHA who lost her battle with heart disease. Despite her health, Lesia remained active and strong in her work with AHA and this award goes to volunteers who exemplify similar qualities in her honor. Lesia’s father Denny Bell was present at the luncheon to present this year’s Volunteer of the Year.
This year’s Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Meghan Riordan, who teaches math at Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore City! Denny explained, “She believed in the importance of sharing information about STEM careers and women in STEM with her students and graciously allowed us into her classroom to have female leaders from General Dynamics IT share about their journeys in STEM. Meghan’s willingness to say yes when the AHA team asked and her dedication to her students’ education during a crazy year is the reason, she is being awarded the 2021 Lesia Bell Go Red for Women Volunteer of the Year Award.”
As the 2021 campaign year ends, Kim Davis, 2021 Go Red for Women Chair had the opportunity to pass the torch to our new chairs for 2022. Jennifer Nickoles, Vice President for Operations and System Integration, Johns Hopkins Health System and Nicki McCann, Vice President of Provider and Payer Transformation, Johns Hopkins, have the privilege of leading over this next year.
The mission of the American Heart Association is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. I combine my passion of storytelling and relationship building to further the mission.