KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's always a party atmosphere anytime the Kansas City Royals begin a homestand. Friday's home game will offer a party with a purpose as the Royals remind women to care for their medical well-being.
The Royals stress something more important than winning baseball games -- women's health. "Girls Night Out" provides a chance for charities like the American Heart Association to connect with women, stressing that heart disease is the leading killer of American women.
No one knows that better than a Royals fan from Harrisonville, Mo., who is surviving because she's making her health a priority.
"It's going to be a lifelong journey for me," Keri Mathews said.
In medical terms, Mathews might be describing her condition mildly. The 40-year-old was born with a bicuspid aortic valve -- a heart defect that makes physical activity nearly impossible. Mathews says it's the same heart defect her father and young son are challenged by.
"As I got older, physical activity became very hard for me. It got to the point where excercising and walking up steps became hard for me," she said.
And just when Mathews thought her heart condition was under control, a new problem arrived. At 39, she suffered a minor stroke. Mathews says it was her body crying for help.
"When they told me what had happened, I didn't believe it," she said. "I thought, 'I don't have time for this. I'm a busy mom.' I wasn't listening to my body, which is a big warning sign -- knowing what doesn't feel right. I should have seen some warning signs leading up to that."
The American Heart Association says one in three American women will die of heart disease. Mathew says she's managing her condition and undergoing frequent testing.
It's because of women like Mathews that the Royals host "Girl's Night Out." Sara Grasmon is a coordinator of special events with the ballclub. She says the Royals value a chance to improve women's lives.
The Royals are happy to partner with the American Heart Association on the event and throughout the year. It helps spread the word about heart disease.
"It is so important to listen to your body, and to know your numbers," Mathews said.
Kauffman Stadium has hosted "Girl's Night Out" each year since 2008. Anyone with a ticket to Friday's game is welcome to attend the get-together in the outfield experience section of the ballpark.