If you're seeing a lot of red today, it's not because Nebraska Cornhusker fans are in town.
Nope. These folks are fans of living a healthier lifestyle. By participating in National Wear Red Day, they hope to spread the word that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
One such fan is Lawrence resident Debra Thompson.
Thompson said she decided to embrace a healthier lifestyle just before her 47th birthday.
Twenty-two years ago on Christmas Day, her father, Robert Lucero, died of a massive heart attack; he was 47 years old.
"My dad was my everything," Thompson said. "When I was in my 46th year, I started thinking about that: Holy smokes - Dad died at my age.
"I am just beginning to live, so to speak. I decided to dedicate my life : to keeping my health up, to being a better person and doing things my father would be proud of."
Her efforts include spearheading a semesterlong program at Haskell Indian Nations University that focuses on women's health.
"I'm hoping that by having this semester of good health for women, we can show women that we do count," said Thompson, facility management specialist/safety officer at Haskell. "We need to make ourselves No. 1."
Haskell plans to dedicate each month to a different topic such as cancer, diabetes, eating habits, exercise and mental health. Each will include different activities such as diabetes screenings and cholesterol checks.
The Lawrence Go Red For Women Luncheon will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive.The event will include a fashion show, silent auction, keynote address, and blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings from Lawrence Memorial Hospital.The cost is $50. To purchase tickets, call Jamayla Long, special events director for the American Heart Association, at (913) 652-1907.The event benefits the American Heart Association and its mission of fighting heart disease and stroke.
This month is "Matters of the Heart," and today about 70 women who work at Haskell will attend a luncheon while donning red and learning about "healthy hearts."
Lori Tapahonso, public information officer at Haskell, called Thompson's efforts "extraordinary."
She said she was looking forward to participating in the first-time event.
"We forget to encourage ourselves to be healthy," Tapahonso said. "But if we are not healthy in our own lives, then how are we going to be beneficial to the school? Being healthy is just foremost for ourselves, our families and our careers."
Sally McGee, clinical nurse specialist at Cardiovascular Consultants in Lawrence, said the key to a healthy heart is knowing "your numbers" for cholesterol and blood pressure and when those numbers put you at risk for a heart attack. Of course, exercise and a healthy diet are helpful.
It's also good to know the symptoms of a heart attack, which aren't always a severe chest pain.
McGee said symptoms can include shortness of breath; pain in other parts of your body such as arms, neck or back; excessive sweating; unexplained fatigue; and heartburn.
The last symptom is one that Thompson is familiar with.
Her mother, Jane Lucero, thought she had heartburn while the two were on vacation several years ago in Santa Fe, N.M.
After a couple of days of dealing with "heartburn," she asked Thompson to take her to the emergency room, where she was told it was a heart attack.
"It was mind-blowing that she was having a heart attack and we didn't know," Thompson said. "What if she wouldn't have spoken up?"