Drs. Anthony M. and Paula Fletcher


‘Be the Beat’ luncheon raising awareness and funds to end heart disease and stroke.


The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, will conduct its 2023 Central Arkansas Go Red for Women Luncheon this month under the theme “Be the Beat.” The organization is challenging families and households everywhere to have at least one person who knows life-saving CPR.


The signature luncheon – chaired by Dr. Anthony M. Fletcher FAHA, an interventional cardiologist with CHI St. Vincent Cardiology and Medicine Clinic, and his wife, Dr. Paula Fletcher, a retired orthodontist who currently serves as health director at Shorter College – is scheduled for May 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Benton Event Center. Go Red for Women is designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women locally, nationally and globally.


While the majority of cardiac events may be prevented, cardiovascular disease continues to be a woman’s greatest health threat. One in three women in Central Arkansas live with some form of cardiovascular disease, and it’s on the rise in younger women.


Many Go Red for Women Luncheon attendees fight heart ailments of their own or know someone who does. Others have lost loved ones to cardiovascular disease or work in the health care industry, diligently trying to reverse the trend. More than two dozen of these women – and a few men – are members of Circle of Red, a giving group born of the Go Red for Women initiative.


“It is important for me because my mom, two brothers and my husband all have heart issues,” said Gina Pharis, chairperson of the local Circle of Red. “As an 11-year member of Circle of Red, it’s critical to share with family and others the importance of heart health and knowing the warning signs and symptoms of heart disease.”


Members give $1,000 annually and attend events that give them an exclusive look into what the American Heart Association is doing across the area to improve women’s heart health.


“Our financial commitment goes toward research and lifesaving programs for preventing heart disease,” Pharis said.


To prevent cardiovascular disease, women should understand family health history; know their key personal health numbers that help determine risk for heart disease and stroke, including total cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index; and make lifestyle changes such as moving more, eating smart and managing blood pressure. Risk factors within women’s control include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity/overweight and Type 2 diabetes.


The Go Red for Women Luncheon will include a health expo, a Red Dress fashion show, a silent auction and words from an inspiring heart survivor.


“As the daughter and main caregiver to my mom, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, I know firsthand how devastating and debilitating heart disease can be,” said Carmen Parks, development director of the Central Arkansas Go Red for Women Luncheon.


“It is my hope to work alongside others here in Central Arkansas to significantly decrease heart disease so that it no longer remains the No. 1 killer of women.”


Prior to the 2004 inception of GRFW, only 30 percent of women knew that heart disease was their greatest health threat, causing more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. A decade later, close to 56 percent of women recognized this fact, nearly a 90 percent increase in awareness. What started as an awareness campaign grew into an international movement and has become a platform for real change.


go red for women


Go Red for Women is nationally sponsored by CVS Health and is presented locally by platform sponsor Saline Health System. Media sponsors include B98.5, Power 92.3 and AY About You Magazine/Arkansas Money & Politics.


Tickets for Go Red for Women are $250 and can be purchased at

CentralArGoRed.heart.org or by emailing Carmen.Parks@heart.org


Read each of this year’s survivor stories below:

Sunni Ackley

Charity Smith Allen

Donna Eastham

Maddie Finn

Brenda McKeever

Lana Roach