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DECATUR -- In Dr. Karen Larimer’s 25 years as a nurse, she worked with thousands of patients and their families suffering with cardiovascular disease.

Larimer did plenty in that time to help those patients but wanted to do more.

“I started thinking about what we need to do as health care providers to try and improve how we’re living our lives and prevent people from having heart attacks or going into heart failure,” Larimer said.

Larimer became part of the American Heart Association, and soon it was a passion. She became a member of the AHA’s Illinois Advocacy Committee and is now the President of the AHA Chicago Board of Directors. On Friday, June 3, Larimer will be the keynote speaker at the first Decatur Go Red Luncheon.

“For me, when things moved away from finger-wagging -- don’t do this and don’t do that -- and the message became more positive, like here are things you can do to avoid a heart attack, I could get behind that,” Larimer said. “Promoting eating healthy and exercising is being focused on positive change.”

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in both men and women.

“I’ll be talking about what women can do to empower themselves and live a healthy lifestyle,” Larimer said. “I’ll talk about life’s simple seven -- managing cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and weight, getting active, eating healthier and quitting smoking. Seven things seem like a lot, but they work hand in hand.

“Just making a change in one of those helps facilitate a woman living a healthier life.”

The event will be held beginning at 11 a.m. at the Staley Museum, 316 N. College St. The AHA has been holding Go Red Luncheons for years, but this is the first in Decatur.

“We developed a mission advancement committee in Decatur with volunteers from a cross-section of businesses in organizations in Decatur looking for chances to engage the community in Decatur,” said Karen Gedrose, AHA corporate events director. “The Staleys have been a huge supporter of the AHA -- Julie Staley was on the planning committee -- and since they just opened the museum, we thought that would be the perfect location.”

Individual tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling (217) 698-3838 or online at www.heart.org/decaturgored.

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Sports Editor

Sports Editor for the Herald & Review.

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