Diet Coke and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) teamed up with Elmcor last week, turning the Corona nonprofit’s gym into a red-tinted runway to celebrate women and raise awareness of heart disease.
“It’s up to us to take care of our hearts,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who was given a proclamation at the event.
Annie Meredith, legislative director for Ferreras, said the councilwoman had met with representatives from the soda company and department store J.C. Penney earlier this year, and they had conceived of holding an event that would not only do something special for the community, but complement Diet Coke’s The Heart Truth campaign, centered around the dangers of heart disease in women.
The result was a health and fashion extravaganza March 21 held in the gym of Elmcor, at 107-20 Northern Blvd. Redecorated to look like what Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) called a “Manhattan disco,” with red flashing lights, red balloons, a DJ and a runway, the event featured a fashion show, a Zumba lesson, a raffle, arts and crafts for children, food and various health and nutrition presentations.
“We’re very thankful that all of you have joined us in this effort,” Dayra Azcona, of Coca-Cola Refreshments, told the 300 people who attended the event.
The councilwoman said part of the reason why she wanted to hold the Women’s Heart Health celebration, now planned as an annual event, was a personal dedication to making herself healthier. She said she had lost 15 pounds because she loved working for the community and said if she were to suffer a heart attack, she would not be able to do so anymore.
“It’s time to eat healthier because my heart deserves better,” Ferreras said.
Sandra Bennett-Pagan, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said heart disease is preventable with good habits: Do not smoke, watch your weight and diet, watch your blood pressure and be vigilant if you have diabetes.
Quinn said heart disease is often thought of as a man’s disease, but women can spread the message that they need to take care of their own hearts.
“When we take care of ourselves, our families get better taken care of,” Quinn said. “When we take care of ourselves, girls have good role models.”
Rayna James, a Women, Infants and Children employee, was one of the presenters at the event.
WIC is a federal program that provides checks to women and their children in need that can be redeemed for specific food items like milk, cereal and cheese.
James was demonstrating healthy meals that can be made with those WIC-approved items.
She said she enjoyed the event and the opportunity to promote good nutrition.
“It’s such a wonderful thing for the community to see,” James said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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