DALLAS, Feb. 1, 2023 — Twelve heart disease and stroke survivors from across the nation will serve as the 2023 faces of the American Heart Association’s national Go Red for Women® movement. Alongside the Association, which is devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, the group will share their personal stories of survival to help women embrace optimal health at every age, through every stage of life.
First launched in 2008 and known as the Go Red for Women Real Women class of survivors, these national ambassadors serve a one-year volunteer term representing a diverse sisterhood of survivors who actively, urgently and passionately champion the Association’s nearly 20-year-old movement to eliminate the No. 1 killer of women.
By speaking out publicly and sharing their inspirational stories through social media and with nationwide news media, as well as within their own communities, these women help motivate others to learn and understand the signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke.
The 2023 American Heart Association Go Red for Women Real Women class of survivors are:
- Sharell Weeams, now 44, of Dallas, Texas, was celebrating with her friends at a dance competition when she suddenly collapsed from cardiac arrest.
- An Army combat veteran, Jia Wu, now 30, of Tacoma, Washington, experienced multiple mini-strokes while deployed in Afghanistan. Back home, doctors discovered the likely cause of her attacks, and she underwent two brain surgeries to prevent a major stroke.
- Margarita Pineiro, now 43, of Westchester, New York, was getting ready for work like every other day when symptoms of a rare condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) stopped her in her tracks.
- Fourth grade teacher, Dina Pinelli, now 48, of Huntington Station, New York, dismissed her symptoms for nine weeks as anxiety, when in reality she had survived three widow-maker heart attacks.
- While vacationing in New York City when she was 24, Brittany Williams, now 32, of St. Petersburg, Florida suffered sudden cardiac arrest and needed emergency CPR from bystanders in Times Square. She lives with an implantable defibrillator.
- Ceirra Zeager, now 23, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, began her journey with heart disease at just 14-years-old she suffered a heart attack due to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.
- Ann Ramirez Duda, now 53, of Torrance, California, knew something was wrong, but never imagined she would be diagnosed with congenital heart failure. While waiting for a heart transplant, doctors discovered a brain tumor they removed with surgery.
- After suffering from a migraine for days, Yael Shvetz, now 54, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, was diagnosed with a rare hemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed) and beat the odds to live to see her daughter get married at the hospital where she was treated.
- Dawn Turnage, now 52, of Youngstown, Ohio, almost didn’t answer when her 2-year-old niece video called her. After she did, Dawn’s sister and niece, noticed her “funny face” as a subtle sign of stroke and persuaded her to seek help.
- Leslie Jordan, now 38, of Charlotte, North Carolina, had just delivered her newborn son at 33-years-old when a nurse determined that her slurred speech, loss of mobility, intense pain and recent preeclampsia diagnosis were all pointing to a stroke.
- Shemellar Davis, now 46, of Katy, Texas was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy, a rare form of pregnancy induced heart failure, after giving birth to her son when she was 29. With a newborn at home, her own health took a back seat, until her mother passed away from heart failure just weeks later.
- Now a nurse Naomi James, now 34, of Vail, Arizona, was born with a congenital heart defect. She had open heart surgery at just 3-months-old, however, her first pregnancy strained her heart so much that she needed another procedure to save her life after she delivered. Now expecting her second child, her body is much stronger and prepared for the journey of pregnancy.
The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement, sponsored nationally by CVS Health, increases women’s heart health awareness and serves as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of all women.
To help prevent heart disease and stroke, women should understand their family health history, know their numbers (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and BMI) and make healthy behavior changes. This month, women can download a voucher to receive free heart health screenings at CVS Health MinuteClinic locations nationwide. For details, go to GoRedforWomen.org.
- Multimedia, including a photo of the Real Women Class of 2023 and a video comment from Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association, is available on the right column of the release link.
- Follow AHA/ASA news on Twitter @HeartNews
About Go Red for Women
The American Heart Association’s signature initiative, Go Red for Women®, is a comprehensive platform designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally. While the majority of cardiac events can be prevented, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, claiming the lives of 1 in 3 women. For 19 years, Go Red for Women has encouraged awareness. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power of women to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. It also gives them tools they need to lead a heart healthy life. The Go Red for Women movement is nationally sponsored by CVS Health, with additional support from national cause supporters. For more information, please visit GoRedforWomen.org or call 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721).
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.