In 2010, when I was 37 years old I was hospitalized for my first cardiac episode. My mother died 10 years prior from heart disease... she was 46 years old when she died. My mother's battle with heart disease was short; she collapsed at work one day and then she spent the next few months undergoing two quintuple bypass surgeries. Just as we thought she was in the clear, she was celebrating the 4th of July, surrounded by family and friends, watching a Tyler Perry movie. She was laughing at the movie and a peanut she was eating became lodged in her throat. Even though the peanut passed quickly and family members were able to assist, her heart was too weak to handle the stress and she died. She was so full of life and even made her stitches burst after surgery from laughing so hard. My mother, Veronica would give anyone her last and she went above and beyond for anyone she knew; often grocery shopping for the elderly or taking them to the laundromat. The lady with the BIGGEST HEART lived with a heart that wasn't strong enough.
My mother's mother died at 51 and her mother died in her late 50s. My mom was just trying to make it to her 50th birthday. When I realized that this could also be my fate, I decided to break the cycle. Every woman in my mother's family kept dying younger than their mother. Heart disease kills more women than all Cancers combined, yet little people know this. There are so many things we can do to live healthier lives, but too few are aware.
For the past 12 years, I’ve hosted an event called The Red Shoe Lunch. The event has not only been a place where people dawned their sexiest red shoes, but it's been a platform for me to share my story and help educate others. Our attendance is small and most who attend are friends or friends, but to-date, we've raised over $21,000 for the American Heart Association. (https://www2.heart.org/site/TR;jsessionid=00000000.app30028a?px=11117524&fr_id=3930&pg=personal&NONCE_TOKEN=26AA7F69D9D774B0957F053FDCC14C4C)
Even after I began my crusade of awareness in 2010, I would once again find myself in trouble. In 2014 I had a T.I.A (mini stroke). I learned more about diet, exercise and knowing my numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, BMI, HDL, LDL, etc.) and I realized that so many of my friends had never received a screening. I never thought I would live longer than my mom, but here I am almost 50 YEARS OLD and I just want to scream... "Momma, I made it!”
In memory of my mother, and with the help of my friends, family and supporters like you, we started the Veronica Blount Memorial Foundation (VBMF). I want to help educate those in the communities with the least resources. My mother was undergoing her heart procedures at the same time as Talk Show host, David Letterman. Mr. Letterman returned to work fairly quickly and he made it look easy. My mother was younger and she never bounced back like the Talk Show Host. I remember thinking he must have access to better physicians. I remember wishing I was rich so I could get my mother better care; after all, she deserved it. In the end, I realized that better education and awareness could have saved my mother's life. I don't doubt that her medical team did everything they could to save her; it was just too late. Years of a poor diet, smoking and a lack of education and resources became the perfect storm that helped end her life. My mother had to take out a second mortgage on her home to cover living expenses while she was off from work. My wages were garnished to pay for her funeral because while she was out sick, the company where she worked for over 20 years was sold to another company who didn't acknowledge her as an employee because she hadn't signed her new contract.... so didn't have life insurance.
I want to be in a position to provide financial assistance to those in need. I want to help those who can't afford to be "sick". I want to host health screenings in the communities most in need; bringing the healthcare to them (barbershops, hair salons, community centers). If people have access to free health screenings, we may be able to save lives. We can teach people how to eat better understanding that many of the most vulnerable have income restrictions and can't afford to eat healthy. There is so much we can do and the time is now...after all... there's a reason I broke the cycle. I lived to help others!
Visit: www.redshoelunch.com to learn more about the Red Shoe Lunch
Thank you in advance for your support!
Veronica's Daughter, Tee Blount
(a young Veronica pictured above)