February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and more women than men die of heart disease each year. Heart attacks alone, will claim the lives of more than 200,000 women -- nearly five times more than will die of breast cancer.
I learned this from reading about the WomenHeart organization when I designed my "Love & Prayers" scarf last year. My design won first place in the WomenHeart scarf design contest held by KNITCIRCUS magazine and appeared in KNITCIRCUS Issue #15, Fall 2011. The pattern is available here, and it is free to encourage charity knitting.
What I did not know, until shortly after I finished knitting my first "Love and Prayers" scarf for the magazine, is that there is a very active WomenHeart organization in my area (Luzerne County, Northeastern Pennsylvania). And that the woman at the center of it all, Sharon Hinchey, is also a national WomenHeart Champion. (Here is a local newspaper article about her from November, 2009.)
One of the many things that Sharon and other community WomenHeart organizers do is to collect handmade red scarves and distribute them to women who are recovering from heart attacks. My LYS (local yarn shop), Gosh Yarn It!, began a "Love & Prayers" WomenHeart KAL (knit along) in late August, shortly after the release of my pattern. I am happy to say that six beautiful hand-knit scarves were donated to WomanHeart. (Several other knitters gifted scarves to women that they knew personally. Just one more sign of how prevalent heart disease is in affecting women's lives.)
I finally had the pleasure to meet Sharon this Thursday when she did a presentation at our regular "Stitch & Spin" at Gosh Yarn It! Sharon is the survivor of two heart attacks. Her talk was very dynamic, very inspiring, very moving and very informative. I was totally impressed by this woman, and I will follow up on my blog with links and information about a USA Today Magazine article that will feature her on February 28th, as well as whatever I can learn about her upcoming visit to the White House representing WomenHeart.
This photo shows Sharon (first on the left) and all those who donated scarves to WomenHeart and were present Thursday night. (I am next to Sharon and wearing the first "Love & Prayers" scarf.)
To all my readers: Please learn if you are at risk for heart disease; take all preventative measures possible; and learn about heart attack warning signs. Take care of your heart like your life depends on it.
For more information see WomenHeart, or the National Heart Association, and talk to your doctor.