DECATUR — Upon entering the room, people can’t help but notice the bright red, curvy couch. The visually striking piece of furniture is an invitation for anyone to relax while talking about their own experiences with heart health.
“We want them to sit on the couch, tell their stories and post it on their social media,” said Carrie Skogsberg, communications director for the Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association.
The red couch will be displayed throughout February at Millikin University’s University Commons as well as in the lobbies at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital and Decatur Memorial Hospital. Those who sit on the couch are encouraged to post videos and photos using #redcouchdecatur.
The Red Couch campaign is intended to raise awareness of cardiovascular diseases that affect women as part of the AHA's Go Red For Women movement. According the AHA, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.
As the numbers show, many people have been touched by heart diseases, whether in their family or personal experience. With one in three women suffering from heart disease, Skogsberg and said people have stories to tell.
Kara Demirjian Huss, president of DCC Marketing, lent the bright couch to the AHA campaign because she believes the piece of furniture represents comfort, empowerment, collaboration and entrepreneurism.
“It translates easily to the American Heart Association and what they are doing,” she said. “This was a perfect match.”
Huss sees a connection between the visually striking sofa and the attitude it evokes.
“In heart disease, you have to overcome it with an attitude and a spirit. That is what the red couch symbolizes. It is a perfect backdrop and foundation for these women,” she said.
Amy Bliefnick and Kelsie Wujek have each donated their time to heart health events. Bliefnick is the chairwoman for the Go Red for Women luncheon to be held June 2. Wujek is the chairwman for the Go Red Purse-onality auction, one of the luncheon events in which purses and bags are filled with valuable items, such as professional sports teams tickets, and will be auctioned off.
“We are just looking for fun and creative ideas for purses or cases,” Bliefnick said.
The Go Red organizers are encouraging organizations, businesses and individuals to donate a purse with interesting items.
The Red Couch is another imaginative way Bliefnick is encouraging others to be aware of their health.
“They can get their picture taken, take their own picture, bring a friend or a couple of friends,” Bliefnick said.
Both women have family members who have had heart health issues.
“It is very important to keep my heart healthy and encourage my family,” Wujek said. “We are trying to encourage all people to eat healthy. It’s not just older people.”
The first stop the couch made was at Millikin University’s University Commons from Feb. 3 to 9.
“They are the ones doing the selfies,” Wujek said of the college students.
The couch will also be at the St. Mary’s lobby until Feb. 19. From there it will move to the DMH lobby until Feb. 28. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures and post on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook.
“By having this available, people can tell their own stories on their own social media. It’s a way to let everyone feel like a part of this campaign,” Bliefnick said.