Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women—being responsible for every 1 in 4 deaths. This statistic hit much too close to home when my Grandmother, LaVerne Clarke, had her second major heart attack.
After undergoing a quadruple bypass surgery and receiving a pacemaker, she decided to take her heart into her own hands by engaging in more physical activity and adapting healthy eating habits. Seeing the incredible changes in her energy, activity, and happiness, I knew Women’s Heart Health was a cause worth fighting for.
In February of 2016, my friend and fellow colleague, Julia Bortolazzo, and I teamed up to be the directors of UCLA Alpha Phi’s annual philanthropy—The Red Dress Gala. This event hosted 450 people who share our passion in supporting the Alpha Phi Foundation for Women’s Heart Health. Together, we raised approximately $40,000 at this event.
This year Julia and I decided not only did we want to contribute at our national level, but also at our local community level. In order to accomplish this, we reached out to the American Heart Association team in Los Angeles and partnered with them where we became involved in their events, such as Go Red for Women, to help bring energy and advocacy toward their cause.
Additionally, we decided that 25% of our proceeds from this year’s Red Dress Gala would be donated towards the American Heart’s initiative of passing policy to train students Hands-Only CPR skills prior to high school graduation.
In donating roughly $10,000 to this campaign, we were able to supply Warner Elementary School with enough resources to train every student and faculty member Hands-Only CPR skills. Since 4 out of 5 sudden cardiac arrests outside of a hospital and only 10.4% of victims survive the event, we felt the need to play a role in helping secure resources for people of all ages to be informed and capable of reacting in the unfortunate case of a cardiac emergency.
At the state level we have recently passed AB 1719 (Rodriguez) which will ensure that a large percentage of California students will graduate from high school with this life-saving skill. With more hands becoming trained more hearts can be saved. If you want to get involved in your local community, please contact Kula Koenig, Government Relations Director, today!