Fight heart disease with a colour

There’s a shade of red for everyone at the Red Dress event

Melissa Wong
Kicker

Stephanie Roberts isn’t just another model at a fashion show, she’s one of two minds that organized the Red Dress event.

Stephanie Roberts a model and a fourth-year Bachelor of Nursing Student and President of MUN Nursing Society. She is the Planning Coordinator of the Red Dress Event along with Charity Drove. Melissa Wong/Kicker
Stephanie Roberts is a model, a fourth-year nursing Student and president of the MUN Nursing Society. She is the Planning Coordinator of the Red Dress Event, along with Charity Drove. Melissa Wong/Kicker

Roberts and Charity Drover are fourth-year Memorial University bachelor of nursing students who partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to mastermind the Red Dress event. Their mentor, Dr. April Pike, a professor at the Memorial University’s School of Nursing, has researched heart disease and provided them with a deeper understanding of it.

“Charity lives with a heart condition,” Roberts said. “So, my interests spiked because of my friendship with her and how we could contribute and give back to the community for something that is very near and dear to her. Just being nurses in general, we have met many patients living with heart disease (or) undergoing a stroke and I think this is just our next step.”

Roberts and Drover have been friends since 2015 when they met in nursing school, but Roberts says it feels like it’s been a lot longer.

The foundation asked the pair to take over organizing the event in 2016.

“The symbolism behind the red dress is for heart health,” Roberts said. “The beating heart is red. We hope that individuals take in the Red Dress Event and the red dress fashion show as a symbol of improving heart health for both men and women.

“That is the idea behind the red, it’s bold, it stands out, it’s ferocious.”

On Sept. 22, local musicians and foundation supporters gathered for the event that was held at Hayward’s Interiors. Guests sampled the hors-d’oeuvres and sat on expensive furniture – price tags still attached. All funds raised from the event were donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for research initiatives on heart disease.

Lisa Brogan with her son, Jackson, modeled in the Red Dress fashion show. Jackson is a survivor of a pediatric stroke. Lisa gave a presentation about how she discovered Jackson was sick.

Lisa and Jackson Brogan
For the fashion show, Lisa Brogan models a Model Shop’s gown. Her son, Jackson, models a velvet suit with a red shirt. 

“I have heard of many strokes at various ages,” Brogan said. “I had never heard of a child having a stroke, let alone a three-week-old baby … It was an out of body experience, it was one of those times where you are sitting there, and you are hearing it, but you are not really taking it all in.”

Brogan says 15-week-old Jackson began trying to learn all the things he had lost. The damage is to the right side of his brain, though the stroke was on the left. A cerebral artery was also damaged.

For Roberts, stories like Jackson’s are why she focuses her time on the event.

“I think the main purpose of talking about cardiovascular disease is its prominence,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, it is (common) among the population – through obesity, through genetics and through family history in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Roberts and Drover plan to ensure the success of future Red Dress events by training their novice planning coordinators, Bethany and Brianna Kean, who will train the next generation, and so on.

“We would like for it to potentially stay within the nursing school and to be led by nursing students and that is the idea of the future of the Red Dress event,” Roberts said.

For more information about the Heart and Stoke Foundation, visit http://www.heartandstroke.ca/what-we-do/careers/newfoundland-and-labrador

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