On Tuesday, February 4, Woman’s Day celebrated heart-health heroes at the 17th annual Red Dress Awards, held at the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Jazz at Lincoln Center was alight last night, filled with red dresses, as hundreds of guests came together to celebrate and honor those who have had a lasting impact on women’s heart health awareness, and who have made significant contributions in the fight against heart disease. This threat is the number one killer of women today, according to the American Heart Association.
On the red carpet, several notable guests shared their personal experiences with heart disease and explained why they believed it was important for them to be a part of the event. They also shared their advice on how to live healthy lifestyles and prioritize heart health.
Award-winning actress and performer of the night, Sutton Foster remarked, “Heart disease actually runs in my family. Both of my grandfathers died of congestive heart failure and both of my grandmothers died of stroke. Actually, everyone in my family has some form of heart disease so I am thrilled to be here to celebrate the people that are making a difference and also to shine light on heart disease.”
For Betsey Johnson, the legendary fashion designer known for her whimsical and over-the-top designs, heart disease is extremely personal. Less than a year ago she had open-heart surgery following three separate seizures. She told The Knockturnal that when she had breast cancer she was able to feel symptoms right away, but with her heart it was harder to tell that anything was wrong. “When something feels wrong, check it out,” she said. “Heart disease is very difficult to feel, but if anything feels wrong you must check it out. Go meditate for ten minutes and go how does my body feel? And you will be able to pick up on it.”
Annabelle Santos Volgman, one of the celebrated honorees of the night also had tips to share. She told The Knockturnal, “I am a cardiologist and I have been taking care of women for the last 30 years. We started the Rush Heart Center for women 17 years ago, so we have been taking care of thousands of women, and we do a lot of research and community activities to make women aware of heart disease, and we are really learning the differences between men and women when it comes to heart disease. My advice for women is this: If a woman has a family history of heart disease she needs to be evaluated much more aggressively than other women because it can affect her much earlier than other women.”
For Joy Bauer, TODAY show nutritionist, the night was especially exciting. She enthusiastically remarked on the carpet: “We are here to celebrate so many amazing, extraordinary people who have contributed in a huge way in the fight against heart disease. This year I had the great privilege of working with a handful of women who started out with high risk for heart disease. Some of them had already experienced heart attacks and strokes. And throughout our journey working together they shed pounds, they lowered the numbers, they got off of medication, they feel amazing and they changed their lives on every single level and tonight I reveal the ladies on the stage!
Following the carpet and cocktail hour, the speeches began. Michelle Collins was a vibrant and hilarious host who opened the evening with this quip: “They said it’s a red dress awards so… has anyone found their dress twin yet? There are only so many red dresses. Is anyone else wearing this dress? I bought it at the Nordstrom across the street.” Collins hosted along with Woman’s Day Editor-in- Chief, Susan Spencer, who remarked on a more serious note, “Tonight is the night that we recognize our allies in the fight against heart disease in women and we set the direction we’re heading in together. It’s a night to celebrate progress and hard work , but also to remember that as far as we’ve come, there’s still more to be done and more awareness to be raised.”
Tony Award-winning actress Sutton Foster opened the night’s entertainment with a soulful medley performance of “Sing” and “Heart and Music.” The evening honored a group of luminaries who guided, supported, and inspired women to take charge of their heart health and live joyous, fulfilling lives. Honorees included Mindy Grossman, President and Chief Executive Officer of WW International; Elizabeth Röhm, actress, producer, and author (who was unable to attend the event but left a beautiful video to be played for the audience in her absence); Dr. Marilyn Gaston & Dr. Gayle Porter, co-founders & co-directors of The Gaston and Porter Health Improvement Center (and best friends for 45+ years); and Annabelle Volgman M.D., F.A.C.C., senior attending physician at Rush Medical College and Rush University Medical Center.
Following the honors, Joy Bauer, TODAY show nutritionist, brought up this year’s five participants in the Woman’s Day Live Longer and Stronger Challenge, who together received a standing ovation for their accomplishments in the program.
Later, to close the evening, the B-52s, who have sold 20-million albums worldwide, got the audience up and dancing to their greatest hits.