Red scarf initiative sweeps through St. Luke’s Hospital in fight against heart disease

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A long-standing tradition continued at St. Luke's on Friday with the Red Scarf Initiative. Heart attack survivors, along with doctors, passed out more than 5,000 handmade scarves to women to serve as a reminder that they are not alone in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Kathleen Claussen handed out more than gift bags, she handed out hope.

"I was in their shoes just a year a half ago and I know what they are going through. I know that it is scary, I know that they've got a long road ahead." Claussen said, "I just want to encourage them that they can do it and they are not alone in their struggles."

Claussen is a heart attack survivor and she is one of many volunteers who walked door to door, visiting those in the same fight she once did.

"It's a very powerful meeting in that they both can relate in that experience more than anyone else," Dr. Tracy Stevens, of St. Luke's, said.

Dr. Stevens said one in three women will die from a heart attack or stroke and that the scarves serve as a symbol and a reminder.

"It's a link to them, to empower them, to embrace them. That they can control their risk factors and we are here to help them in their journey," Dr. Stevens said.

It's a journey that Pam Beier will be on after she is released from the hospital over the weekend. And a journey that Claussen shows can be completed with the proper support.

"It does. It's nice to see that you are 100% so I'll get there. I'll get there in a little bit," Beier said.

"It reminds me every day that I've got to keep going and I've got to keep exercising and eating right. I'm going to tell this women that this is what you've got to do. I've got to live it too," Claussen said.