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It’s hearing that shocking statistic that always seems to get everyone’s attention: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America. From there, the American Heart Association seeks to turn that attention into support, which was done so quite successfully on Friday at the annual Go Red for Women Luncheon.

More than 600 guests, mostly women with a consistently growing presence of men, shelled out $250 each ($500 for the VIP afterglow), to attend and support at the Detroit Marriott in the Renaissance Center. Starting with a continental breakfast at 9 a.m., the event included on-site health checks from St. John Providence, a silent auction (one item offered 12 months of shoes from Stuart Weitzman, sending many attendees into a tizzy), and a breakout session with noted medical experts.

During lunch — a heart-healthy stuffed chicken salad — co-chairs Janice Cosby of Ascension Health, and Sharyl Smith of McLaren Macomb welcomed guests and took a fun look back at past years’ luncheons they chaired together, which included keynote speakers Star Jones, Rosie O’Donnell and Laila Ali.

Survivor Judge Michelle Appel of Huntington Woods shared her heart story and the difference the AHA (and her husband) made in saving her life. Sally Lou Loveman enthusiastically led an “Open Your Heart” appeal, where guests made on-the-spot donations in exchange for long white scarves emblazoned with red hearts.

This year’s keynote speaker, actress/comedienne Kim Coles, said that while heart disease does not run in her family, she is very passionate about raising awareness for women and men, as well. She spoke of how her new husband (“12 years my junior”), Reggie McKiver, is keeping her happy and helping her live a healthier lifestyle.

“Eighty percent of heart disease can be cured with lifestyle changes,” advises Go Red for Women Corporate Development Director Mindy Lopus. “Approximately $600,000 was raised, which will go toward critical research and education for the women of metropolitan Detroit. The success of this luncheon is a testament to the power of women.”

Next year’s Go Red Luncheon will be hosted by Somerset Collection and chaired by Dr. Pam Markovitz of Beaumont Health.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of The Social Metro. See TheSocialMetro.com.

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