CEDAR RAPIDS — It started with a chili cheeseburger and cheese fries.
That’s how Cedar Rapids resident Steve Knierim begins the story of his heart attack, which took place in 2014 after that lunch — “what you would think when you think heart attack on a plate,” as he describes it — during a trip to Texas with friends.
Hours later, he was rushed to the hospital and had seven coronary stents placed in his heart.
It was a long recovery due to the emotional side affects, but it marked a moment for Knierim that created an interest in promoting heart health care to others.
“I’m interested in preventing what happened to me to other people,” said Knierim, a principal with OPN Architects in Cedar Rapids.
Because of this, Knierim became the first charter member of the Men Go Red for Women group in Cedar Rapids associated with the American Heart Association and the first of its kind in Iowa.
The all-male group is a giving society that aims to advance research and promote awareness of heart health in women, said Jennifer Schulte, the Cedar Rapids Heart Ball director and a member of Go Red for Women.
The group currently has 10 members, including Knierim.
“Heart health is important to all of us,” Knierim said. “I think there’s still a stereotype that heart health is a male-focused issue, and Women Go Red is all about changing that awareness and building an awareness in the female population.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease was the cause of death for more than 289,000 women in 2013 — or about 1 in 4 women nationwide.
The Cedar Rapids Men Go Red for Women was founded by Schulte about a year ago.
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Schulte said the group includes area professionals who have been touched by heart disease and stroke, or are merely passionate about the cause. She had met Knierim, the first member of the group, when he was a featured survivor at the Cedar Rapids Heart Ball.
“The cool thing about starting this group is that they get to impact how they want to shape the community,” Schulte said. “Their role is to support Go Red movement in whatever shape and capacity they want.”
Schulte said she hopes to continue building core membership of the group before they take on fundraising or networking events later this year.
General admission will be open sometime this summer. Those interested can contact Schulte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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