Hundreds gathered from around the world at the legendary Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City for the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) Spirit of the Heart Awards Dinner on Saturday, October 3rd. The prestigious event was emceed by actor and American Heart Association Spokesperson Lamman Rucker, and chaired by Publisher and Co-Founder of Essence Magazine, Edward Lewis. Singer Avery Wilson also performed for the crowd of medical professionals, industry leaders and visionaries in the field.
According to ABC’s website, the awards dinner serves as a celebration of life with proceeds going to support ABCs ‘Spirit of the Heart’ community outreach to provide consumers with the knowledge that heart disease is preventable, and heart healthy activities are important for longevity.
The mission of ABC is to promote the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, in Blacks, and other minorities and to achieve health equity for all through the elimination of disparities. Current organization president Icilma Fergus, MD, highlighted the history of ABC in the premier of the “Spirit of the Heart – A Community Call to Action” at the awards dinner. “The association started over 40 years ago by a group of visionaries who recognized that there still remained an iniquity in terms of survival outcomes of cardiovascular disease among African Americans, and they decided that they were going to do whatever it takes in terms of education to the communities, to the providers, to institutions…I think as health care providers we have to get into the habit of encouraging our patients to become partners in their care.”
Statistics show that there is dire need for organizations like ABC:
Among non-Hispanic blacks, age 20 and older, 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease and stroke are the number one cause of death. African Americans are 33% more likely to die from heart disease compared to Caucasians.
Since its inception, ABC has been able to reach over a million people through its various programs; some of which are able to bring education and screenings right where they live. The American Society of Hypertension has partnered with ABC in places like Denny Moe’s Barbershop for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and cancer screenings. BFT was at Cutting For a Cure 2014 in Harlem, where celebrity barbers from around the country and even as far as France volunteered their time and talent to cut hair for 48 hours straight to raise funding and increased awareness for conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect underserved communities.
Check out our conversations with award recipients Dr. Jennifer Mieres, Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe, ABC President Dr. Icilma Fergus, and Publisher and Co-Founder of Essence Mr. Edward Lewis on their contributions, what we need to know, and personal triumphs.
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