Party with a purpose

Knowledge is power and heart health advocates want to share that power by encouraging people to “party with a purpose” at the Webster County Sweetheart Ball March 1.

The annual dinner and dance is a fun way to donate to a worthy cause, as well as a serving as a means to encourage people to take action against cardiovascular disease in their own lives.

According to numbers from the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 130,000 people die each year of heart attacks and strokes, making heart disease the number one killer of men and women in the United States. However, armed with an awareness of warning signs and contributing factors, along with tips to lessen risk and improve their overall health, people can take matters into their own hands and prevent becoming a tragic statistic.

Spearheading the local Sweetheart Ball again this year are Deb and Casey Johnson, long-time advocates for heart health.

“You can change your lifestyle and lessen your risk factors,” Deb Johnson said. “Hereditary factors play a part, but they are not the only factors.”

People need to be aware of signs and symptoms they may otherwise overlook, she said. Time is of the essence when it comes to getting help should a heart attack or stroke strike. Knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is also extremely beneficial.

“Learning how to do CPR matters,” Deb Johnson said. “You may not know when it will be needed, but it’s valuable, life-saving knowledge.”

Donald Hobbs, of Fort Dodge, knows this personally, she said. Hobbs will be the speaker at this year’s Sweetheart Ball and will share the tale of how his wife saved his life by performing CPR when he coded.

“I’m very interested in hearing his story,” said Johnson said. “It is something we generally expect from older gentlemen, not men in their 30s.”

Regardless of a person’s age, though, knowing the factors that can impact heart health enables a person to make simple changes to improve their odds.

“We know it works,” Johnson said. “With education we make better decisions, we eat better, we exercise more. We can live better, we can improve the quality of our lives.”

Funds raised by the Sweetheart Ball will help the AHA with efforts that include research, education and nutrition programs. The goal for the event is to raise $50,000.

Silent and live auctions will be held with items offered that range from a $1,000 Iowa Central Community College scholarship to Iowa State University basketball tickets, Iowa Wild hockey tickets, a golf and dinner package at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, and a dinner for eight at Schade Creek Winery in Waukee.