If you’ve read Living Proof, you know that WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease has long been an important part of our work.
Nearly two decades ago, I was asked to help train the first class of WomenHeart Champions—60 women from around the U.S. with heart disease—on how to powerfully and publicly share their stories.
We gathered that first time at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for the first Womenheart Science & Leadership Symposium—and have done so every year since. In fact, in just a few hours, I’ll head to Rochester for the 15th time…to meet the 2016 class of WomenHeart Champions.
As of today, more than 800 such champions have received training at the symposium, and helped WomenHeart become the leading voice in education, advocacy and support for the more than 40 million women living with or at risk of heart disease, the #1 killer of women. These champions have truly made a difference in the lives of others, and they continue to inspire me and my Living Proof co-author, Tim Cage, with their deep commitment.
WomenHeart inspires us as well. Why? Because it takes the power of story seriously—as serious as a heart attack.
It treats its advocates and their stories with respect and care, providing ongoing support and training. It also arms its champions with knowledge: at its annual symposium, the women hear from top cardiologists and researchers, and receive extensive training on how to be community educators and how to establish and run monthly peer-led support groups.
WomenHeart—and the impact it’s had on improving women’s heart health—is living proof of the value in investing in storytelling advocates.