Liberty High School rallies for heart health awareness

January 15, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Contributed

Liberty High School is selling Rock the Beat T-shirts to raise funds for the American Heart Association. Contributed

Dawn McCutcheon didn’t think it could happen to her.

In 2009, at just 38 years old, the Sammamish mother of two suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, changing her life forever.

“When my cardiac arrest happened, it was definitely a surprise and definitely a long road of recovery trying to come to terms with the fact that now I live with a pacemaker and it’s something that I have to live with for the rest of my life,” she said.

Rather than dwelling on her predicament, the 1989 Liberty High School graduate sprung into action, working to educate those around her about heart disease, as a volunteer, and eventually employee, of the American Heart Association.

“It’s just now my mission personally and professionally to educate,” she said.

Her alma mater has decided to join the cause, hosting a “Red Out for Heart” event in the spirit of raising awareness about heart disease, while collecting donations for the American Heart Association.

Beginning on Jan. 28, Liberty students will bring awareness to cardiovascular disease through a weeklong series of events, including thematic dress days, and culminating with a Jan. 31 celebration at the school’s boys and girls varsity basketball games.

During the game, students will collect donations for the American Heart Association and educate attendees about heart disease prevention and warning signs.

Free CPR training, information booths and a halftime shooting contest are just some of the activities that will be offered during the game.

Also during halftime, McCutcheon, as a survivor, is expected to address the crowd.

“If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody, and I think that’s really the point I’m trying to get across when I talk at those events,” she said.

The Liberty students hope to raise $10,000 for the American Heart Association, and the bulk of that money is expected to come through T-shirts sales, said Michelle Munson, Liberty’s dean of students.

Students are encouraged to participate by purchasing red “Rock the Beat” T-shirts, which are available for $10. The shirts are available during lunches beginning Jan. 21 and the night of the game.

Liberty is also accepting donations online through an American Heart Association team page.

“All the proceeds go directly to the American Heart Association,” Munson said. “Liberty doesn’t take a cut, Liberty doesn’t take in any money. It goes straight to them, and it’s really toward research.”

If you go

‘Red Out for Heart’

  • Jan. 31 during Liberty High School boys and girls varsity basketball games
  • Girls: 5:45 p.m.
  • Boys: 7:30 p.m.
  • Liberty High School gymnasium
  • 16655 S.E. 136th St.

On the Web

Learn more about heart disease from the American Heart Association at www.heart.org/pugetsound. Donate to the cause through Liberty High School’s American Heart Association team page at honor.americanheart.org/goto/LibertyHighSchool.

McCutcheon and Munson, who were classmates at Liberty, chose the Jan. 31 date because of its proximity to Feb. 1, National Wear Red for Women Day.

Landmarks around the state will be lit red in recognition of heart disease, and in particular, its effect on women. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined, according to the American Heart Association.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading killer of Americans, leading to one death every 39 seconds. That comes to 2,200 women, men and children per day. The American Heart Association is dedicated to heart disease and stroke prevention through the funding of critical research.

“I’m so proud that my alma mater has stepped up to do this,” McCutcheon said. “If we can fundraise for the life-saving research that saved my life, and at the same time educate a few people and save their lives, then we’ve done something amazing.”

When McCutcheon approached Liberty’s Associated Student Body about hosting the event, the students didn’t hesitate to get involved, Munson said.

“A big part of our ASB program with our vision and our mission is service leadership,” Munson said. “Any time you can raise awareness for a cause, it’s a good thing.”

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