GREENFIELD — There’s more to being a homemaker than baking pies.
The Hancock County Extension Homemakers proved that Wednesday with their inaugural Go Red for Heart Health Benefit at the county fairgrounds.
February marks American Heart Month, a nationwide effort to promote education on prevention and treatment options for those suffering from heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, heart-related illnesses remain the No. 1 killer in the United States, with one in every three deaths resulting from stroke or heart disease.
Wednesday’s event was one of many being held across the country this month aimed at changing those statistics.
The Go Red benefit offered free screenings for high cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as checks for signs of osteoporosis.
As LeDora Calvert sat, waiting on her screening results, she knew she had every reason to be nervous.
Calvert, of Morristown, has a history of heart disease in her family. Her father died at 47 from blocked arteries, and her cousin died in his sleep from a heart-related ailment. Her niece, who also suffers from heart disease, had a heart attack at 30.
“So my family – us kids – keep a close eye on things,” she said.
Wednesday, Calvert learned her blood pressure was dangerously high. The news, delivered by officials from St. Francis Health who were on hand to do the screenings, came as a shock.
“It’s never been high like that,” she said. “It’s been a little borderline.”
The event also featured a dinner and silent auction, with proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association.
Clad in red, organizers (and sisters) Vickie Ramsey and Margie Clark helped serve lasagna dinners to attendees and encouraged them to take advantage of the free screenings.
Ramsey said the extension homemakers work hard to promote their organization within the community, especially when it helps overcome stereotypes associated with the group.
“A lot of people, when you say homemakers, … think that we’re sitting home, knitting, and that’s not what it is,” Ramsey said.
Each year, the homemakers sponsor events aimed at serving the community. Last year, the group held a similar dinner/silent auction that raised $3,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Organizers were hoping for a similar turnout at Wednesday’s benefit.
This year’s fundraiser hit close to home for Clark, the organization’s vice president.
Clark’s son has a weak heart and depends on a Left Ventricular Assist Device to keep his heart pumping normally. At just 38, the father of two young children is on the heart transplant list.
Clark said her family’s experience has made the event even more poignant.
“We’re only given one chance at life,” she said.