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AROUND TOWN: Women in red learn about heart disease

October 1, 2017 Updated: October 1, 2017 at 4:20 am
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Go Red for Women: Emcees Lauren Ferrera, left, and Tammy Oakland visit with Heart and Stroke Association Kathleen Saltmarsh-Voss, who is rehabbing following an accident. 092217 Photo by Linda Navarro

The ballroom at Cheyenne Mountain Resort took on a rosy hue as more than 300 scarlet-clad guests entered the annual American Heart Association Go Red for Women luncheon on Sept. 22.

Many women had participated in the morning's heart and stroke screenings and educational sessions.

It's vitally important, said co-chairwomen Sue Minero and Robin Patterson, because heart disease is the top cause of death for women in the United States, and almost two-thirds of those who died had no symptoms.

One of the day's cheerleaders in red was Kathleen Saltmarsh-Voss, executive director of the local chapters of the American Heart and the American Stroke associations. It was one of her first major outings in a wheelchair, as she is is recovering from a June 3 accident. A trailer at an outdoors event had backed over her, trapping both legs. She suffered eight breaks, is slowly learning to walk again and is just regaining her appetite. She told friends she has learned first-hand the difficulties faced by those with disabilities.

Along with other guests, Saltmarsh-Voss was moved by the story of featured survivor Jenna Bell. The active mother of two young children was diagnosed with heart disease at age 23. She wasn't married then and didn't have children but now has "so much to live for." Her magic date was Feb. 6, 2016, when it was finally her time for a heart transplant. "That woman died so I could live, and I'm not going to let her down," Bell said.

Tears came as she told how heart transplants often last only 12 years, when "my kids will be 15 and 13. I'll miss all the big events in their lives, and I'm not willing to leave." Is an answer waiting in a research lab? She wondered aloud, asking those present to donate. "Help me be here," she softly challenged.

More than $24,000 was raised, earning donors red boas delivered by Colorado Springs firefighters, Air Force Academy Prep School cadet candidates and college nursing students.

The motivational keynote speaker, "Survivor: Nicaragua" finalist Holly Hoffman, had her own challenge, encouraging the other women in red to put themselves first. "We put ourselves in the back of the line when we should be in the front. Take time for yourself." Hoffman survived the rigors of the show and is now "going to make it my mission to be a real-world survivor."

More photos: gazette.com/life/around-town

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