‘Red’ event brings local awareness to heart disease

By Lark Lewis

After two years of gusty winds and cold temperatures, the third time proved the charm with weather for DeKalb’s Girls Night Out on Wednesday.

Local businesses sponsored the event, which raised money for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.

Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of women and the most deadly type of cancer, according to the American Heart Association’s website. Girls Night Out brought together different people with different stories but one common bond: having heart disease in their lives.

“My dad has had three heart attacks, heart surgery and has a pacemaker, and my father’s father has had four attacks,” said DeKalb resident Tricia Maxwell.

The third-year attendee brought friends to promote awareness, enjoy food and have fun.

“I am a huge advocate of being healthy. I had a college friend die of a heart attack and a friend in their 40’s need heart surgery,” Maxwell said. “You always think ‘old’ when talking about heart attacks but it’s hitting younger and younger.”

One woman involved in the fundraiser had an insider’s perspective on the reality of heart disease.

“I suffered a heart attack and had symptoms way different than a typical male,” said WomenHeart advocate Linda Kerr.

Kerr has been featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine and has also visited Washington D.C. to raise awareness for heart disease and women’s awareness.

“My husband’s father had a triple bypass early in life and passed away early,” said DeKalb resident Autumn Kelly, who was with friend and fellow DeKalb resident Colleen Belmont.

Heart disease accounts for every one in four deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

With events like Girls Night Out, local businesses can get more involved in their communities.

“We like to do things in the community, do fundraisers and that type of thing. It’s a good way to get into the community,” said Kristin “Tootsie Bang Bang” Spickerman, Barbed Wire Betties team member.

The Barbed Wire Betties is a non-profit organization. The team donated all of the money it made from its 50/50 raffle to the Go Red for Women campaign.

“It’s a lot of fun. A nice, casual, fun event for a great cause,” said Debbie Witmer, O’Leary’s co-owner and Sycamore resident. “It’s a nice night and pleasant to see moms and daughters dressed up in red come downtown.”