PIQUA — Women — and men — gathered for a heart-healthy lunch Thursday to raise awareness about healthy living.
The 2016 Go Red Goes North Luncheon and Wellness Expo, held at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center, also raised nearly $5,000 for the American Heart Association.
Missy Tallmadge, MSN, MHA, director of nursing at Upper Valley Career Center, opened the program by sharing that she joined the battle after watching both of her grandmothers fight heart disease, and ultimately losing one.
She asked community members to take control of their heart health — the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the country.
“We are going to beat this disease through prevention,” Tallmadge said, adding that 90 percent of men and women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
The emcee for the event was Rachel Murray, a consumer reporter for WHIO television. Murray, whose own mother just took a step toward a healtheir lifestyle by quitting smoking, shared some statistics with the crowd, including the fact that one woman dies every minute in the U.S. from heart disease.
Heart survivor and Toledo Womens Golf Coach Nicole Hollingsworth delivered the keynote address, sharing her personal journey following her own heart episode.
Hollingsworth shared how, after gaining a considerable amount of weight throughout her career — topping out at 313 pounds — she left work not feeling well one day 14 months ago. Following a trip to the emergency room and follow-up appointments, Hollingsworth was found to need a heart catheterization procedure — the surgery that took her father’s life.
“I always took care of others besides myself,” said Hollingsworth, the 2014 and 2016 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year.
Following her scare, Hollingsworth said she decided to take charge of her health, beginning an exercise regimen and changing her eating habits.
To date, Hollingsworth has lost 73 pounds.
“I saved my own life by losing weight,” said Hollingsworth, who used to drink as many as six pops a day, but has not had one in two years.
She also changed her diet from fast food — which she said she loved dearly — and processed foods to proteins and vegetables.
Hollingsworth, who at first put “Do Not Touch” notes on food she didn’t want to eat, used humor at times, saying people need to stop making the same old excuses for why they are not changing their lifestyles. She used examples such as people saying they did not enough time to exercise, healthy food is too expensive, and her favorite: there’s a holiday upcoming.
“You people live in the United States of America,” she said. “You know there’s going to be a holiday pretty much every month, so get over it.”
Hollingsworth said at times she continues to struggle, but knows her life is worth it.
“What I do daily now is a matter of life and death,” she said. “You can’t have a great life if you have heart issues.”
In closing, Hollingsworth asked everyone in the room to make a change for the better.
“I want you to go home and make a change today. Without your heart, you have nothing,” she said. “Walk out of here and be No. 1.”
Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131.