More than 680 women from across York and Adams counties turned out for Go Red for Women Luncheons this February. The luncheons, held on Feb. 7 at the Out Door Country Club in York and Feb. 21 at the Wyndham Gettysburg, aim to raise awareness among women about their risk for heart disease and raised more than $60,000 combined to support The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all.
The events’ keynote speaker, Becky Sieg of Biglerville, was only 35 years old when she received a heart transplant last year on Easter Sunday. Less than a year later, she stood in front of the sold-out room to share her incredibly personal, inspirational, and sometimes funny story of living with chronic heart disease, surviving a heart transplant and the impact she hopes to make for others living with heart disease in the future, including other members of her own family.
Becky was diagnosed with a rare form of cardiomyopathy called arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) after collapsing during a volleyball tournament in college. This diagnosis led to dramatic lifestyle changes. She went from being a collegiate athlete to someone who lived in fear of getting shocked by her implanted defibrillator. It also led to her brother, Travis Martin of New Oxford, being diagnosed with ARVD and learning that her own son and a nephew both carry the genetic marker.
Learning that she was in heart failure two years ago and that she would be recommended for a heart transplant a year later came as a shock. Learning that she would be getting a new heart on Easter Sunday was the miracle she needed. Afterward, it took a village to help her navigate her new normal – a heart that gave her strength she hadn’t experienced in a long time, but a long list of new problems, side effects and medications. A small price to pay, she noted, for a second chance at life.
She expressed gratitude to the countless physicians and surgeons who managed her care, the research that led to the knowledge, procedures and devices she received, and most importantly, the person who chose to become an organ donor whose heart would end up saving her life.
“In conclusion, I have just one question for everyone in this room,” said Becky. “Have you checked ‘yes’?”
The York luncheon was chaired by Mary Winand, client services associate at The Financial Advisory Group, and hosted by Bryanna Gallagher of Fox43. The Gettysburg luncheon was co-chaired by Lisa Duffy, director of marketing and communications for UPMC Hanover and UPMC Memorial, and Kathy Miller, director of heart and vascular services for UPMC Southern Region, and hosted by Corinne Lillis of WGAL-TV. The event also featured a silent auction, heart-healthy lunch and activities led by Encompass Health.
Go Red for Women is nationally sponsored by CVS Health. The York Go Red for Women Luncheon and Adams-Hanover Go Red for Women Luncheon is locally sponsored by UPMC, WellSpan Health, Encompass Health, Harley-Davidson, Byrnes Health Education Center, Chloe’ Eichelberger Textiles, Cross Keys Village – The Brethren Home, Fox43, Glatfelter Insurance Group, The Graham Group, J. Andrew and Nancy Miller, Joel Rosenblatt and Teann Scoggins, RBC Wealth Management – The Sides Group, Visiting Angels of York, Apple Hill Surgical, Financial Advisory Group, First Capital Federal Credit Union, James & Jordan Shaw, WellSpan Health Neurosciences, WellSpan Health Cardiovascular & Thoraic Surgery – Dr. Burlingame and York Traditions Bank.
This year marks the 16th anniversary of the American Heart Association’s launch of the Go Red for Women movement. Go Red for Women is rooted in raising awareness among women that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women around the world. Considerable progress has been made to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease. In fact, there has been a nearly 90 percent increase in awareness among women that heart disease is their leading cause of death since the launch of the Go Red for Women movement in 2004. Yet women, especially women of color, continue to be adversely affected by cardiovascular disease, underrepresented in clinical trials and underrepresented in STEM careers.