Lanett Senior Center celebrates Wear Red Day to promote American Heart Month

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LANETT — February is American Heart Month, a time of year when people are asked to focus on their cardiovascular health. There’s a National Wear Red Day this month, which is designed to bring greater attention to heart disease as a leading cause of death to Americans.

On Monday, the Lanett Senior Center had a Wear Red Day as a prelude to Valentine’s Day. Guest speaker Tonya Morris urged seniors to be proactive about their heart health with regular checkups, an exercise routine and proper dieting.

Morris said she was not a healthcare specialist but had lost some people she dearly loved to heart disease and that they had left this world all too early.

Email newsletter signup

She said that her dad had held a larger-than-life influence on her life until he was disabled by a stroke when he was 50.

He would live another 17 years in a nursing home, but it just wasn’t the same not having him as the leader of home life.

“It was so hard visiting him in the nursing home,” she said. “I was 17 at the time, and all I could think about was that he would not be there for me on prom night, at my graduation and to see me off to college. All I could do was cry when I would go to see him in the nursing home. I just couldn’t stay there long. I had to leave when it started getting to me, and I would cry and cry when I left him.”

Her conscience bothered her in not being strong for him. 

“There was something inside me asking why I was staying away,” she said. “A voice was telling me ‘he needs you and you’re not going to see him the way you should.’”

It was a growing-up time for her. 

“I went from being daddy’s girl to being a caregiver for my dad,” she said.

Morris had another heartbreaking experience with heart disease with a best-friend cousin named Marcie. 

“A day after we had spent a lot of time together I was told that she was in ICU in the local hospital,” she said. “It was such a shock. I thought she was in such good physical condition. She only weighed around 120 pounds. I remembered that she had been rubbing her chest a lot when we were together the day before. She might have been having chest pains then.”

Marcie was in the ICU for three weeks before passing away, leaving three young children.

There are warning signs that come before a heart attack. She urged people not to ignore them.

With the death of her father in 2011 and Marcie’s death in more recent years, Morris vowed to herself that she would be as healthy as she could be. She did not want to leave those in her life who needed her. 

“I promised myself to eat healthy, be physically active, stay at a healthy weight, to stay away from smoking and drinking, to keep track of cholesterol and blood pressure, manage stress, know the medicines you are supposed to take and take them in the right amounts at the right time.”

Other ways to love your heart include replacing unhealthy fats with heart-healthy foods in your diet, get a good night’s rest every night, have a regular workout routine, improve your dental hygiene and keep track of your numbers.

“Each one of us has a better chance of living a long, healthy and productive lives if we make the right choices,” Morris said. “I make it a point to exercise every day.”

Morris had some good news to tell senior center members. She’s a member of the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. A youth group that’s affiliated with the chapter will be coming to the L.B. Sykes Center this spring to do some volunteer work in the garden that’s planted out back every year. The Lambda Zeta Omega chapter will also be purchasing a bench to go outside the center. It will be in memory of those in the local area that have been lost since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.