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Go Red Luncheon empowers women with health, safety information

Vendors from Franklin County and the surrounding area were on hand for the fourth annual Go Red Luncheon Feb. 14, coordinated by the Franklin County Extensions and the Foster Grandparent program. A wide array of booths, as well as a number of guest speakers, aimed to provide valuable health and safety information to luncheon attendees.

Jeanne Isbell with Good Samaritan Hospice said she is always looking for places to reach out to people and educate them.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about hospice services, and we want people to know the truth,” Isbell said.

Vendors like the Cardiovascular Institute of the Shoals provided medical information about various leg pain issues, like vein disease or peripheral arterial disease, which is when the arteries become clogged and put a person at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

“We want people to be aware of the symptoms and know that it’s not cosmetic; it can be fixed; and if it goes untreated, it could lead to much worse symptoms,” said Allie Gray, marketing and patient care coordinator for the institute.

In addition to the vendors, a free book table enticed attendees to peruse and choose books and puzzles.

“It’s stuff to keep their minds going,” explained Franklin County Extension director Katernia Cole-Coffey. “Reading is fundamental.”

The luncheon is held in February each year to coincide with American Heart Month, and guest speakers encourage attendees to put a priority on heart health.

New Franklin County Emergency Management director Mary Hallman Glass spoke at the luncheon. She shared both of her parents have survived heart attacks because they noticed early warning signs and sought help.

“I can’t express how important it is to not be ashamed and go get help,” Glass said.

Some of those early warning signs include chest discomfort, pain spreading down the left arm, dizziness or lightheadedness and an irregular heartbeat.

“There’s no easy way of saying that you’re having a heart attack, but there is an easy way of noticing the signs,” Glass said.

Extension Agent Karen Elaine Softley spoke about how to maintain heart health through nutrition. She emphasized the difference in good and bad fats and regulating cholesterol.

One of the goals of the luncheon is to empower women to take charge of their heart health because, as Cole-Coffey said, the warning signs for heart problems are different for women than they are for men.