What’s Your Why?: Go Red leaders are passionate about women’s heart health


Why is it important to you to be heart-healthy? The American Heart Association is encouraging every person of every age in the U.S. to consider that question as part of the Go Red For Women campaign to raise awareness about women’s heart disease. Two leaders of Rochester’s Go Red campaign talked with Rochester Women magazine about their own, very personal “Whys.” 

 Melissa Dickison, 2015 Go Red Executive Leadership Team Chair

Her Why:  My son, Jakob

Family ties: Jakob is my motivation because I want to be there for him for a long time. I have a family history of heart disease. My grandfather died due to a heart problem when I was 11. My family also has a history of high cholesterol. I have a similar health pattern. My grandfather’s death was unexpected when he was in his early 70s. Missing him hits home for me the importance of sticking around in the long run. 

Making it fit: It’s been a challenge since the birth of my son to stay focused on my own health. I used to work out every morning before work. It had to be an hour, and it had to be intense. What I’ve learned is that I still need to be committed to exercising, but I have to be more flexible about how to make it happen. A quick walk can sometimes be good too. Everything makes a difference.

Encouraging others: Go Red is a fun event, and we want everyone—women and men—to come and enjoy it. But it has a very strong message. We all need to understand that heart disease in women is real. It affects many women and their families.

Heart-healthy advice: There are easy ways to be aware of your heart health. We talk a lot about knowing your numbers. Meet with your doctor. Get your cholesterol checked. Get your blood pressure checked. Make sure you’re doing those things on a regular basis. 

Jennifer Plante, 2015 Go Red Executive Leadership Team Incoming Chair

Her Why:  My mom

A shocking loss: My mother died from a fatal heart attack in 2000. That was before much of the medical community was in tune with the idea that heart disease can and does affect women. My mother had never been diagnosed with any kind of heart condition or high cholesterol. At 56, she was not overweight. She exercised five days a week. She was not the prototypical person that you might think would suffer from a heart attack.

Motivated to make a difference: Fourteen years later, it is still chilling for me to recall the night my mother passed away. It was absolutely devastating and so unexpected. But it’s a great motivator for me to participate in a group like this that’s dedicated to raising awareness of this very important cause. I know the work we do can help save lives.

Reaching out: We’d like to get more men involved in Go Red. Teaching men to recognize heart disease and its symptoms in women hopefully will help them think about it as a possibility and make them more aware of how vital it is for the women they love to be heart-healthy. 

Heart-healthy advice: Try not to do it alone. I’ve included my husband. We take walks together every morning. We also agreed on having one or two meatless meals a week. Working on being heart-healthy is good for both of us, and we get to spend more time together.

Tracy Will is a local freelance writer whose why is her tween, her teen and her terrific husband.