Reminder Assistant Editor
They're your mother, your boss, your neighbor or your friend -- they are the American Heart Association's 2009 Go Red Leading Ladies of Western Massachusetts.
The 27 honorees will be traveling throughout Western Massachusetts to raise awareness about heart disease -- the number one killer of women in America over the age of 20 -- and the importance of heart-healthy lifestyles.
"The American Heart Association was looking for women who are role models and an inspiration to others in the home, at work or in their community," Mary Ann Burns, Regional Communications Director for the American Heart Association, said. "Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. The Go Red For Women movement is a national movement providing women with information, resources and hopes to live longer, stronger lives."
In an interview with Reminder Publications, Go Red Leading Lady Michelle Srenbick of Longmeadow said she was honored to be chosen to represent an organization that has meant so much to her family. She explained that her two-year-old daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and undergone two open-heart surgeries to repair the organ and implant a pacemaker.
"She's never going to be an Olympic athlete but she'll be healthy," Srenbick said of her daughter, adding that she will undergo her final surgery this summer.
She explained that the American Heart Association has allowed her family to meet others with similar experiences, creating a new support network for them.
"It has been a real help to know other families [are going through this and] that you're not alone in this," Srenbick said.
Go Red Leading Lady Vivian Williams of Springfield explained that in order to be a spokesperson for heart-healthy lifestyles, one must begin at home. She said she chooses to eat healthy and engage in 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
"I'm in the medical field [so] I've seen what having a healthy heart [can do]," Williams said. "[I want to] let people see how I live my life and hope it will influence just one person [to adopt heart-healthy living]."
Go Red Leading Lady Melva Copes of Westfield recalled that she was shocked to find out that she had been chosen as one of this year's honorees. She said she volunteers her time to the American Heart Association but never knew she'd been nominated.
Copes explained that she tries to "do the right thing" by her body and that one must live by example.
The 2009 Go Red Leading Ladies also include Danielle Veronesi-Polasty of Agawam; Trish Robinson and Christine Shirtcliff of Belchertown; Chris Annable of Greenfield; Carol Rogers of Holyoke; Michelle Haryasz, Lynn Ostrowski, Linda Martins and Janis Santos of Ludlow; Pam Stratton of Palmer; Stephanie Esdale of Shelburne Falls; Jaclyn Cashman, Tracey Gary, Jennie Golden, Eloise Long, Gwynetta Sneed, Pamela Smith, Carrie Taylor, Patty Weller, Gail Wilson and Jimmie Wilson of Springfield; and Deanna Lawrence and Maureen Mandirola of West Springfield.
The honorees will make their next appearance at the Face to Nails, Etc. fundraiser in Chicopee on Feb. 13 and the Go Red Night at the Springfield Falcons game on Feb. 20.
For more information about Go Red For Women, visit www.goredforwomen.org.
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