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Thursday, March 30, 2023
ArlingtonNewsLinks members go red in support of heart health

Links members go red in support of heart health

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Lingering pandemic impacts prevented the 14th annual DMV Links Red Dress Program’s heart health and wellness weekend from being held in person. But that only served to broaden the reach.

More than 10,000 people – some from as far away as Malaysia, Australia, India and the Philippines – tuned in for a series of educational and social events designed to highlight steps individuals can take to improve and maintain their heart health.

“The more women we continue to mobilize daily to stop our No. 1 health threat, the more lives we can save,” said Michelle Bailey, national public-relations chair for The Links Inc. and, for the fourth consecutive year, chairwoman of the event.

“We know the collective power of what we can do when we put our hearts and minds around a common goal,” Bailey said.


Programming kicked off with a Friday-night introduction of medical and public-health professionals and special guests, including national Links president Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Links national health-and-human-services chair Dr. Nicholette Martin and Links national HeartLinks chair and Walk for Healthy Living chair Mary Clark.

“We are creating awareness,” Leonard said, who noted the good-news/bad-news aspects of having to hold the event in an online format for yet another year.

“While we hoped to be in person this year, our ‘virtual’ programming has enabled us to expand our reach beyond geographical borders and positively engage a broader audience of women who need this critical information,” she said.

A panel of nationally-renowned experts explored various topics, including total heart health, mental health and the impact of breast cancer and COVID on cardio health. The panel was moderated by Andrea Roane, a longtime local-media veteran.

There also were social events and a praise-and-worship program livestreamed from Metropolitan AME Church in the District of Columbia throughout the weekend.

With generous sponsorships from corporations and Links chapters, donations were presented to social-safety-net agencies Dress for Success, the TRIO program at Montgomery College and the Brookins Lupus Educational Foundation.

Participating Links chapters included Arlington (which chaired the event), Capital City, Greater Rappahannock, Loudoun County, Metropolitan, Mount Rose, Patuxent River, Potomac, Prince George’s County, Reston, Silver Spring, Southern Maryland, Washington and Willow Oak.

In 2008, the Arlington chapter of Links started a Heart Truth program through a grant from the national Links and the American Heart Association, which laid the foundation for what has become the Red Dress program.

That inaugural event in 2008 attracted 50 attendees, and over the years has grown to become the largest program of its kind in the region, and among the largest in the nation.

Suzanne Walker, president of the Arlington chapter, said she hoped participants would “take the information, inspiration and motivation” they received at the event and help spread the word.

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