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Go Red for Women:

Updated: Jun 14

By Voice-Tribune • Photos by Antonio Pantoja 

Happy 100th Anniversary to the American Heart Association and Happy 20th Anniversary of the Kentuckiana Go Red Experience, a special event that brought together our community to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke—the leading killers of women. It was delightful to see everyone at Angel’s Envy Bourbon Club as we gathered to celebrate strength, resilience, and the power of awareness. 

In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) launched the Go Red for Women initiative in response to a startling reality: cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet it was often dismissed as an older man’s disease. Go Red for Women was born to combat this misconception and empower women to take control of their heart health. This passionate, emotional, and social initiative aimed to dispel myths and raise awareness that heart disease and stroke are the number one killers of women. 

The goal of Go Red for Women was not only to raise awareness, but also to inspire action. This movement harnessed the energy, passion, and power of women to collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenged women to understand their risk for heart disease, take action to reduce it, and live heart-healthy lives. The iconic red dress, introduced by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and adopted by the AHA, symbolized this fight for awareness and health. 

We were honored to present the Survivor Fashion Show, featuring ten incredible individuals who faced heart disease and stroke and emerged as beacons of hope and strength. These survivors, ranging in age from 3 to 85, were living proof that awareness, action, and support could save lives. 

Our survivor models included: 

Ella Bruce and her mom Julie | Remi McCrite | Payton Manley | William Warman | Tammie Hill | Gant Hill John Donohue | Tiffany Cole Hall | LaRhanda Trammell | Dr. Jerry Buchanan 

Our models were dressed by generous boutique sponsors, including Buttons Bows & Britches, That Cute Little Shop, Trunk & Hutch, Glasscock Too, Rodeo Drive, Rodes For Him | For Her, and Mamili. 

Thank you for joining us and showing your support for the Go Red for Women movement. We hope you enjoyed our fashion spread featuring these inspirational survivors. 

Tiffany Cole Hall

I’ve had seven strokes in my lifetime. You read that right. Seven. And I’m only 47-years-old. I have what’s called vertebral artery dissection. That means I have a tear in one of the arteries in my neck and it affects my body’s blood flow. It’s a rare condition, but it does cause its victims to suffer strokes.

When I was diagnosed, I was terrified. I felt lost and shocked. “This type of thing only happens to other people, not me,” I thought.

But what I have found in my recovery is a community of people who support my health and well-being, whole-heartedly (pun intended). As awful as it was to go through this life-changing event, it was just that: life-changing. I am forever changed for the better because of it!

It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it was pretty tough at first. The physical part of recovery wasn’t even the hardest part. In the last year and a half, I have had such a spiritual, emotional and physical metamorphosis. It’s forced me to revisit my priorities and values … The desire to be present both physically and emotionally for my children … The reality that I almost orphaned them, widowed my husband and left my mother without a daughter keeps me motivated to never risk any of that again.

I don’t take anything for granted anymore. I don’t prioritize work over family anymore. I am intentional about living a long and healthy life. 

Tammie Hill

I’ve battled cardiovascular disease all my life. When I was just 5 years old, I had my first diagnosis. I had a hole in my heart and my mitral valve was leaking. I had open-heart surgery to have it repaired. I spent a lot of time in the hospital and wasn’t allowed to play sports. As I got older, I began to get depressed when my disease wouldn’t allow me to do the things I wanted to.

At age 40, I was in congestive heart failure and had a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) put in my chest to detect and stop irregular heartbeats. They also replaced my mitral valve with a mechanical heart valve.

Just a year later, I suffered a stroke. Recovery was tough. I was unable to talk for five days and could see what was happening around me but could not understand what was happening. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience.

I realize that most stroke victims experience weeks, months, and even years of inability to live normally. Some recover fully, and others have long-term or even life-long disabilities. In my case, my body has returned to full functionality, and I credit this to my faith in God and the drive to never give in or give up.

I feel very grateful to be alive. I’m stronger mentally and am determined not to allow this heart disease to define my future. I know who I am and what my purpose is. 

John Donohue

Late last year, I lost one of my oldest and best friends to an aortic aneurysm. It was around that same time that I was also diagnosed with the same life-threatening condition. I didn’t have any of the leading risk factors for an aortic aneurism. I didn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and I didn’t smoke. Instead, I had a sensation in my chest that motivated me to see a cardiologist for the first time in my life.

When I got the diagnosis, I was confused, with very little understanding of my condition or the impact it would have on me and my family. I knew it was serious, but I felt like I needed to do a lot of research quickly to understand my options.

My diagnosis and treatment came so quickly that I really didn’t have a preconceived notion about surgery or the recovery. I was learning as I experienced it. I also didn’t comprehend how much a diagnosis like this impacts not just you, but your immediate family, too. Everyone really had to lean on each other.

Luckily, my open-heart surgery went smoothly. My surgeon was able to save my aortic valve, and now, I’m able to do everything I could prior to my diagnosis, and I’m so grateful.

Always be sure to listen to your body. I’m living proof that it could save your life. 

Gant Hill

At the age of 47, I learned that I was in acute kidney failure. If that wasn’t a hard enough pill to swallow, two months later, I had a heart attack, just before my 48 th birthday. One minute I was heading to bed, and the next thing I remember, I was falling out of it.

I had apparently been asleep for 26 hours, all the while dreaming I was in water. When I finally woke up I had very little strength, so my fiancé called for an ambulance. No one knew what had happened, but after running a series of tests at the hospital, it was determined that I had experienced a cardiac event. Two stents were put in at first, with a third 6 months later. Thankfully, recovery wasn’t so bad.

I’m doing better now, and even recently had a kidney transplant. I monitor my blood pressure and pulse twice a day, take my medications, and try to eat healthier. Going through something like that really makes you appreciate how fragile your life truly is.

I’m grateful that I was given another chance at life and have vowed to take better care of myself for my friends and family, because I know not everyone gets that opportunity. My advice is to be sure to take care of yourself, listen to your body, and visit your doctors regularly ... Because if you put taking care of yourself on the back burner for too long, you might be too late. 

LaRhanda Denise Trammell 

My mother suffered two strokes before I had mine, which may have been what saved my life. One day, when I was 48 years old, I began to feel dizzy. I thought it would pass … but then my family noticed my face was drooping. It was then that we knew I was having a stroke. My family called 911 and I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My son, who was a senior at that time, stayed home from school that day and is still traumatized by what he saw. 

The first two days after my stroke, I slept all day except when doctors would come in for tests, medications or therapy. My body was trying to tell me it was tired. 

Recovery was hard. My mind wouldn’t accept I had a stroke and wasn’t physically able to do the things I could beforehand. I kept trying to work, even while at the hospital. I did outpatient therapy for almost three months after I was released. 

After my stroke, my top priority became healing, not only for myself, but for my mom and kids who witnessed my stroke. I always make sure to take my medication, exercise, worry less and just enjoy and appreciate every day. 

I feel blessed that I have a second chance at life. I learned to slow down, listen to my body, and take better care of myself. I don’t want there to be a “next time.” I never want to suffer another stroke. 

Dr. Jerry Buchanan

I was anxious, short of breath and getting increasingly tired. As a physician, I knew something wasn’t right. When I was just 54 years old, I was diagnosed with coronary artery atherosclerosis. Essentially my left coronary artery was 95% blocked, and I needed bypass surgery. I had two very young children and another two finishing up college. I was excited about my future. I wanted to watch them all grow up.

I was lucky. Recovery was uncomplicated and rapid. I was able to assume my responsibilities as a diagnostic radiologist shortly after. This procedure allowed me to complete a successful professional career, working until age 79, and to watch my children and grandchildren grow up.

But, my heart journey didn’t stop there. Thirty years later, at the age of 84, I needed a stent put in my heart. Again, thankfully I recovered quickly.

Today, I continue to exercise daily and focus on nutrition. Believe it or not, at age 85, I am able to get out and play basketball with my grandchildren!

My message to others is to listen to your body and be aware of your family history. Genetics is something we cannot change, but our lifestyle… we choose. We can control our destiny to some degree by making healthy decisions, but it never hurts to have a little good luck on your side, too. 

William Warman

I was only 20 years old when my heart stopped beating. It was 2014, and I was in an apartment on the Georgetown College campus. Luckily, I wasn’t alone. Those around me sprang into action, performing CPR, retrieving an AED and shocking my heart back into rhythm.

I spent two weeks in the hospital, and the first three to four days in a coma. There was no pain. Outside of losing some weight in the hospital, you would never have known that anything happened. To this day, I still can’t remember anything about the incident.

Eight years later, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation or Afib, during a routine checkup with an electrophysiologist. The EKG showed that I had an irregular heartbeat. That was the first time that I could feel something was wrong with my heart, making this setback more challenging. I was only 28 years old and very anxious and uncertain about the future.

This diagnosis is one that I will likely live with forever. However, I’m doing a better job at managing it and have adopted a more positive mindset about it, which has reduced the anxiety and worries that I once had. I’m more cautious about what I do physically, and I pay close attention to what I eat to help keep my Afib under control.

Now, I don’t take anything for granted. I prioritize my health, and I hope that after reading my story, others are inspired to do the same. 

Payton Manley

I was just nine years old when my family got the devastating news. My heart wasn’t working correctly. I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which meant my heart was beating abnormally fast. We were all terrified and I thought that everything I loved to do, like volleyball and cheerleading, would be taken away from me.

One day while practicing my tumbling skills, my heart started to feel like it was pounding out of my chest, so I went to my mom to let her know that I didn’t feel right. Being a nurse, she suspected something was really wrong. That’s when she checked my pulse and found out that my heart rate was over 240 beats per minute, which was a really scary feeling! I was rushed to a local children’s hospital where they confirmed my diagnosis, and later ended up getting my first cardiac ablation.

Through it all, my friends and family have been there to support me. Today, even though I have to take medication to control my heart palpitations and get dizzy sometimes while standing up, I live a pretty normal life. I eat healthy, exercise, and try to avoid stress by doing things the activities I love and things that make me happy!

My advice to others is to stay strong and follow your dreams! Don’t let the challenges you face stand in the way of who you are or what you want to be. 

Ella Bruce

2020 was a weird year for everyone. Our world shut down. We were all stuck inside, and I was pregnant with my daughter, Ella. 

At her 20-week ultrasound, my world was flipped upside down. Ella had a congenital heart defect. The left side of her heart hadn’t formed correctly and blood was not flowing to the heart normally. Her heart also wasn’t strong enough to pump blood to other organs of her body as it should. I was overwhelmed, anxious and afraid of the unknown.

I had to be close to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for delivery, so I moved to Cincinnati when I was 36-weeks pregnant and lived in an Airbnb until Ella was born. She was born at 38.5 weeks and was immediately transferred to the cardiovascular ICU where she remained for the first few weeks of life.

Ella had surgery at 6 days old. It was the longest and hardest day of our lives. After her operation, Ella experienced some bumps in the road, but overall, we were beyond happy to be home as a family of four.

Ella remains the strongest 3-year-old I know. She had her last open-heart surgery in June 2023. To say she rocked that surgery would be an understatement. She was able to go to preschool this year and loves her dance classes. She is active, happy, and the chattiest girl. To know her is to love her!  

Remi McCrite

We thought we’d hit the jackpot. Our newborn daughter was sleeping through the night. Every parent’s dream, right? But Remi was choosing rest over food, and then she started throwing up her entire bottles. We knew something wasn’t right after multiple trips to the doctors, and demanded that they perform more tests.

Our daughter was just four months old when we received the devastating news: Remi had three holes in her heart caused by three different congenital defects. She would need open heart surgery. There was no other option.

The day of surgery was one we will never forget. We sat there in pure terror until we knew surgery was a success and our daughter was okay.

From then on, we always seemed to walk into the follow-up cardiologist appointments holding our breath, fearing the worst, but every single time, our daughter has come out with a good report. Her heart is strong.

Today, Remi has no limitations. She’s a happy and healthy 8-year-old who loves basketball, volleyball, singing and theatre. She’s talkative and smart and everything we’d dreamed our little girl would be.

We are urged to pay forward the support we received through the toughest days of our lives by supporting the American Heart Association. Our village got us through those terrifying days, and now we are here to do the same for others.


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