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big city lights
Story by Shaila Creekmore, Photo by Courtney Fitzwater

Red Dress Gala 2009 will honor three individuals who have worked toward improving the statistics in women’s heart disease. Dr. Richard Stevenson, Pam Hyneman and Ashley McDole have found ways to use their positions in life to benefit others and speak out about the threat of heart disease in women.
“Big City Lights” is the theme of this year’s black tie event being held at St. Bernards Auditorium on Aug. 15. The evening will feature music and dancing to the sounds of “Everyday Life.” A band from Paragould, the group’s music is diverse with a variety of pop and country songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
A silent auction will be held throughout the evening with dozens of themed packages available such as Razorbacks, Red Wolves and Cardinals sports packages, parties, artwork, makeover packages, golf packages and items for children and the family. The live auction will feature several trips including a week to Turks and Caicos, a spa trip and a trip to Destin, Fla.
The event benefits the many educational programs and activities of the Cardiology Associates Foundation and Clopton Clinic Charitable Foundation.

Dr. Richard Stevenson-Health Advocate
Dr. Richard Stevenson is being honored as the 2009 Health Advocate. A graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Stevenson practiced in Shreveport, La., before returning to his hometown in 1988 to join the staff of St. Bernards Medical Center. The St. Bernards Heartcare program was relatively young at the time, founded in the mid-1980s with heart catheterization services, then growing to offer cardiovascular surgery and many other services.

“I wanted to come back to Arkansas and I believed I could make a contribution over time to the St. Bernards program. And there was no denying there was a special appeal to be able to do that in my hometown,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson now serves as the medical director for cardiac surgery, the cardiovascular intensive care unit and the progressive care unit at St. Bernards. During the past 21 years, Stevenson has performed thousands of thoracic surgeries averaging 125 annually.

“I like walking down the hall and having someone stop me and say, ‘Do you remember me? You operated on me ten years ago … and I’m still going strong,’” said Stevenson. “I get an enormous amount of satisfaction from what I do, and I’m proud to have been part of the growth St. Bernards has experienced over the last 20 years. I just can’t envision doing anything else.”

Pam Hyneman-Community Service
Pam Hyneman is being recognized for her community service contribution. Hyneman walked away from the inaugural Red Dress event in Jonesboro with an increased awareness of the seriousness of heart disease in women.

“I called my mother and told her all about the event and made the comment that I didn’t know any women that had suffered from heart problems,” said Hyneman. “She quickly replied, quite emphatically, ‘Pam, I have had three heart attacks, and you raced to be by my side each time.’ I was floored that it just slipped my mind. The statement that heart disease is a silent killer, should be replaced with, ‘It is not an obvious or remembered killer.’”

An active member in various other non-profits in Jonesboro, Hyneman became active in Cardiology Associates Foundation and Clopton Clinic Charitable Foundation to help in their efforts to raise awareness and promote education about women’s heart disease.

“So much is done behind the scenes by these organizations. The general public isn’t totally aware of the extent of free services they provide to our community,” said Hyneman. “Other women’s issues, such as breast cancer, manifest themselves in a very visual and emotional level. Heart disease on the other hand is unnoticed. The statistics have been brought to the forefront by the high level of exposure due to the national Red Dress Campaign. This national campaign, combined with our local efforts, has at least ignited more awareness.”

Hyneman and her husband, Hal, have two children, Hunter and Camden. She is co-owner of Camden & Co. Jewelry Store. Hyneman said that volunteering gives her a great sense of joy in knowing that she is not only making contributions to the community, but to her children’s future.

Ashley McDole-Red Dress Ambassador
Ashley McDole will be recognized as the 2009 Red Dress Ambassador. A Type I diabetic since the age of 14, McDole was living the life of a typical wife and mother, overweight with high blood pressure, cholesterol and out of control blood sugars. A third grade teacher at Westside Elementary, McDole was invited to join Fitness Boot Camp Unlimited in Jonesboro through the Coalition for Healthy Families and compete against Nettleton School District. Not only was she the winner, but it was a change of life for the 37-year-old.

“A person who had never really exercised before won. I felt confident and realized I could do it,” said McDole. “Having diabetes puts me at twice the risk of having heart disease. I believe that by 40 I would have been in a very serious situation. I have now lost 65 pounds, my cholesterol and blood pressure are lower, and although I will always be insulin dependent, I have lowered my insulin intake by 80 percent. I am fighting heart disease!”

McDole and her husband, Jimmy McDole, have two children: Kelli, 13, and Owen, 9. As a mother, McDole encourages women to stop putting themselves last and to take the time to exercise and eat right, adding time to their life and more time with their family.