Party with a Purpose

On Saturday, at the Best Western Starlite Village in Fort Dodge, the 16th annual Webster County Sweetheart Gala will be celebrated. We moved to Fort Dodge 11 years ago. My husband, Todd, and I have been an active part of the Sweetheart Gala for the last eight years. It is something we look forward to each and every year and it is always great to see our community come together to do its part to help fight heart disease and stroke.

It has been my privilege to serve as an active volunteer on the committee of 12 members planning everything from the decorations to invitations. Each year, we start planning next year’s gala immediately following the current event. We meet regularly September through March planning our theme, working on sponsorships, coordinating invitations, and all other aspects that go into planning such an event. Although I have always been passionate about the mission of the American Heart Association and committed to the goals of the Webster County Sweetheart Gala, this year’s event will have a closer, more personal meaning for me. My mother suffered a cardiovascular episode this past year and watching her recovery has brought our mission even closer to home.

In the time it takes someone to eat a Tootsie Pop sucker, approximately 37 seconds, someone in our country will die of heart disease. It kills more Americans than any other disease and more than the combined causes, of cancer, accidents, lower respiratory disease and diabetes. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in Iowa and throughout the United States. The emphasis in the past has focused more on men with heart disease. However, it is very startling to learn that one in every three women’s deaths are attributed to heart disease and more women die from the disease than from the next five leading causes of death combined, including all types of cancer. The “Go Red for Women” movement encourages women to take action against heart disease and to visit their health care provider each year to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Even with these startling statistics, it is extremely positive to note there are many simple changes that women and men can make to greatly reduce their chances of being affected by this disease.

AHA goal

The American Heart Association has set a goal for America to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans and to reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by the year 2020. The AHA’s movement is a united front calling on all Americans and their employers to live longer, more heart-healthy lives through active lifestyles; which include diet and exercise. New statistics show America’s cardiovascular health is far from “ideal.” For example, between 1971 and 2004, the average total daily calorie consumption has increased by 22 percent in women and by 10 percent in men. Furthermore, burning those calories is also an increasing challenge when 33 percent of adults engage in no aerobic leisure-time or physical activity. A healthy diet and staying active through sports, walking, running or working out, are what make the difference when it comes to our heart health. To sound cliche, small steps lead to big results. It may be as simple and easy as taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator or even parking in the spot farthest away from the store. When you start moving as much as you can, you start putting simple steps in motion making small changes that can make a huge impact on overall health and well-being.

The American Heart Association defines ideal cardiovascular health based on seven health factors: smoking status, weight, physical activity, healthy diet, cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels, as well as the absence of a diagnosis of heart or blood vessel disease. Based on that definition, the new data shows that 94 percent of U.S. adults have at least one and 38 percent have at least three of the seven factors at “poor” levels. Therefore, what the American Heart Association does for heart disease is integral to fighting the disease, improving medications and procedures, and helping those affected live happier, healthier, more prosperous lives. In recent years, 236 multiyear studies at 40 different research institutions across the Midwest were conducted costing nearly $30 million. Examples of some of the studies are: Helping stroke survivors regain manual skills; reducing hospitalization rates of heart failure patients, and reducing tissue damage caused by heart disease and stroke. Each one of these studies was conducted at an institution in the Midwest, including the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Without the funding of generous donors and communities, none of these vital studies would take place. Anything that can be done to share just one more precious moment with a loved one makes everything the American Heart Association does completely worthwhile and extremely important.

2013 Sweetheart Gala

So, let’s talk about the 2013 Sweetheart Gala and what you can expect. This year’s theme is “Party with a Purpose.” If you have enjoyed our event before, you know that we love to throw a good party. I couldn’t think of a more fitting theme, as we are enjoying a great party and raising funds to support such a necessary and worthy cause. If you are wondering what to wear, consider cocktail attire. Our social hour will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner following, promptly at 6:45 p.m. Following dinner, the live auction, featuring Keith Dencklau, will begin. Casey and Deb Johnson have been involved since the beginning and Casey Johnson will be the master of ceremonies for the evening. Dean Vinchattle with In-Your-Ear Mobile Sound will be the DJ for the evening and dancing will conclude at midnight. There will also be a myriad of silent-auction items to bid on throughout the evening, as well as an all-night dessert buffet lovingly prepared and provided by the committee members. All of the live and silent auction items were graciously donated by local businesses and individuals and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the American Heart Association.

Heart disease and stroke impact all of us, making this evening so incredibly important in fighting a disease that touches so many lives in our families and communities.

If you would like to attend the event, please call Holly Narber at 408-3262 or Fort Dodge Ford Toyota at 576-7505 to reserve your seat.

The 2013 Sweetheart Gala Committee welcomes you to our event, and thanks you for your support and generosity.

Holly Narber is the 2013 chair of the Webster County Sweetheart Gala Committee.