Diva Jen

Yesterday was one of those roller coasters: punch-to-the-gut emotional lows followed by relief, support, and happy-tears highs. Seriousness of purpose, silliness in feathers. Ladies who lunch. Women on a mission. The Go Red for Women Luncheon.

I had a job to do at this luncheon. I was the survivor story. There was a video about me and my family, after which I spoke very briefly to the audience of about 600. My remarks had several objectives: don’t tell too much of my story (that’s in the video), thank them for supporting Go Red, ask them to donate more. And do it with out crying so much that I can’t speak. And since I saw that video for the very first time mere seconds before taking the stage, I think I did remarkably well on the latter.

It’s not hard for me to thank others for support, or to ask for more. I am truly moved to see a room filled with women — wearing red — coming together to save themselves and each other. I also know that there’s no way to change my future than through some new learning, new development, or new breakthrough, and that takes money. I asked them to donate, along with Scott and me. I asked for the millions of women who no longer can. For the 100 who died while we ate and spoke and listened. The event raised $520,000 total, including $74,000 in individual gifts, right then and there.

And now, if you’re ready for a little sucker-punch of imagery (these video producers, they know what they are doing, and Scott, well, he steals the show), here’s the full video. Below that are my remarks (as prepared). In a couple weeks, I’ll also have a video of myself giving these remarks and some more photos to share.

Thank you for being a part of our lives. This story is about my family — and all women — not just me.

2013 Go Red for Women Survivor Story

Remarks at the 2013 Go Red for Women Luncheon

I first need to say thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for making this disease important to you. Thank you for going red.

I don’t think I can adequately explain how much it means to me to see a room full of red like this. Heart disease – any disease, I’m sure – is a profoundly lonely experience. This makes it a little less so.

I am so honored to be chosen as the 2013 Go Red for Women spokesperson.

My guess is I was chosen because I seem like an atypical heart attack survivor. I’m younger than what’s expected. I had just one risk factor. I run marathons. So my story gets attention because it looks different. And attention is what this disease needs: a lot more attention.

But the truth is, I am a typical heart attack survivor. Women have heart attacks all the time. Women have heart attacks more often than men. With no symptoms or risk factors, mothers and young women and even athletes have heart attacks. There are thousands – millions — of women just like me. And way too many of them die.

In the five minutes that we watched that video, five women died from heart disease. By the time this program is over, 90. And so it goes, every day.

So I Go Red. I Go Red because I lived. I tell my story because those women can’t.

I have a disease that is aggressive and premature and lifelong. My best prognosis is that I die with it, not from it. I may be fine – today — but I will never be well.

I do what I can. I do what’s required. I learn and I exercise and I take my meds and I listen to every twitch and twinge and try to interpret the signals.

With your help – and the help of the many companies that made today’s event possible – my future might be different.

The silver lining to being a younger heart disease patient is that there’s time for the next big breakthough.

What will we learn, though more funding for research, medications, devices, or procedures that might save my life? What will we discover about how our bodies work, about exercise, about nutrition? Could it even make me well?

The work of Go Red for Women has saved thousands of lives and is saving lives right now. We can only grow stronger. I hope you’ll consider giving a personal donation with me and my husband today. There are more than 500 people in this room. Imagine the difference we could make together.

Here to help us do that is Glen Fladaboe. Like me, Glen also shares a passion for running and a passion for the American Heart Association. He is a well-respected auctioneer with the Minneapolis-based and family-owned business Fladeboe Auctions, which helped nearly 200 nonprofits raise more than $10 million dollars last year. Glen’s father is a stroke survivor and a heart attack survivor, so today’s event is very personal for him, too. Thank you, Glen, for making Go Red a part of your work.

A few photos from the professionals. Photos by Emily Steffen Photography, courtesy of American Heart Association.

GO RED Feb 22 0213-337

GO RED Feb 22 0213-349Me with Glen Fladaboe of Fladaboe Auctions. Glen led the fundraising part of the event, while I shook hands and got hugged a lot.


Me smile-crying.

And a few of my snapshots from the event.

Diva Couch CarolynMore feather boa fun with my mother-in-law, Carolyn.

Jim and Scott
My husband and my father-in-law. Real men wear red. And ties with dresses on them.

Red LipstickSeriously, all events should come with makeup artists.

Go Red Luncheon CollageSome scenes from the ballroom. 


  1. […] should probably be named the Go Red for Women Spokeshusband for all time. He stole the show in the video, charmed and inspired at the luncheon, and wrote the second most-read post of all time on this blog […]

  2. […] luncheon and to donors. It uses video we shot the same day as the full personal story video (which you can see here, if you missed it). I like what I say […]