These Women Go Red Every Day
In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) launched its Go Red for Women campaign.
This groundbreaking campaign was aimed specifically at women’s cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for women in America, and the Go Red campaign is aimed at educating women about the risks and about actions we can take to protect our health. After all, as the Tarrant County Go Red for Women website says, “We are Mothers. Sisters. Daughters. Wives. Partners. Friends. Warriors. Executives. Leaders. We are Women. Strong. Resilient. Relentless. Fierce.”
Madeworthy talked with some of the women who are part of the Tarrant County Go Red for Women campaign about their stories to honor American Heart Month in February.
Versia Burdex-Williams, survivor
Versia teaches English and language arts to struggling elementary students in the Arlington Independent School District.
I’m Versia Burdex-Williams, born and raised in Chickasha, Oklahoma. I’m the wife of retired Fort Worth Fire Marshal Norman Williams and proud mom of Renee and Paul. I have an autoimmune disorder, and 10 years ago, I had a heart attack. Six years ago, I had a TIA (transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke). I had a fantastic medical team at Harris Methodist Hospital. I was encouraged by my loving family and friends to “take it one step at a time” every day, and I eventually gave myself permission to accept my new normal. I took advantage of the free resources from the AHA, along with those from the Tarrant County Resource Connection, to strengthen my body and mind. Recovering from these medical events is a daily journey, and I thank God for each step I take. I have added relationships with so many people because of it!
Abbey Dudek, survivor
Abbey works for Tarrant County 911. She uses her birthday to raise money every year for AHA. Recently, because of Abbey’s efforts, a friend’s father went to the doctor instead of ignoring his symptoms. His doctor found blockages.
Riding my bike saved my leg and my life! I started riding again in April of 2020 during the pandemic. I had pain in my leg which was horrible, but I kept pushing through. I went to several doctors, but no one could figure out what was happening. I was misdiagnosed, but I was persistent. I was finally diagnosed by the fantastic heart and vascular team at UT Southwestern with critical limb ischemia/peripheral artery disease in December 2020. Over the past two years, I’ve had five surgeries. I had NO risk factors for this, no family history. Go Red and the AHA educated me about my disease and linked me to other folks I share the disease with. If peripheral artery disease thought it would get the best of me, it was wrong, and I will keep fighting and riding my bike every day!
Mercedes Cruz, survivor
Mercedes is the survivor of multiple strokes and heart disease. She lives with high blood pressure and diabetes. She has volunteered with the AHA for many years and is a community health worker, teaching approximately 1700 classes over the past 17 years.
I think the single most important message women should take away from Go Red for Women is that this event will empower, inspire, and move you to want to take steps toward a healthier you. It will give you satisfaction to know that your contribution will help other women in our community to survive as I did and help advance research for a healthier tomorrow.
Jennifer Chavez, event chair
Jennifer is the Chief Nursing Officer for Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, as well as a practicing acute care nurse practitioner. She brings more than two decades of experience in various nursing roles and operational leadership to Go Red.
Go Red for Women is special to me because I see the effects of heart disease every single day. Through my career at Texas Health, I have cared for countless patients who need the Go Red message. If every woman could know that heart disease is their biggest health threat, we will have succeeded in our mission.
One of my biggest passions is making sure that people learn CPR. Learning how to perform CPR can save someone’s life and only takes a few minutes to learn. In fact, it can be learned in two minutes and can double or even triple someone’s survival rate after a heart attack. Through Go Red this year, we are working to ensure that everyone in Tarrant County has the opportunity to learn CPR and to Go Red!
Becky Tucker, event chair
Becky is the System Senior Vice President of Channel Integration for Texas Health Resources and has been part of the Texas Health family for 21 years. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and also is on the board of the Fort Worth Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Heart Disease unfortunately hits very close to home. Both my father and my brother have heart disease, and my daughter was born with a heart defect. So this fight is personal, and I know that I’m not alone in that. Unfortunately, we all know someone who is impacted, and I want to do everything possible to ensure that I have more time with my loved ones. The AHA is working to help create a world where cardiovascular disease and deaths do not exist, and I want to be part of that fight. AHA is partnering with companies to help spread CPR training in our communities and to ensure access to blood pressure checks and education. Go Red is more than wearing red. AHA is investing in a better tomorrow, and that is an investment worth making.