Until now, Red Dress Sunday, an annual event promoting awareness about women’s heart health among church congregations, has been confined to four U.S. states.
The event began in February 2005 with three African American and Latino churches in Baltimore, Md., and has since grown to include more than 180 places of worship in Maryland, Delaware, Florida, and Georgia. Now The Medi, a Charleston, S.C.-based nonprofit helping social service organizations connect to people in need, is bringing the event to Charleston.
Its version of the event will differ from the original Red Dress Sunday in that it will encompass Red Dress Sundays throughout the month.
Red Dress Sundays will take place at multiple houses of worship across Charleston on a Sunday in February as chosen by each church. Participating congregations will be encouraged to wear red on that Sunday to bring attention to heart disease and will learn about risk factors, ways to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, and more.
Taking place during American Heart Month, the event will complement and build on February 1’s National Wear Red Day, also designed to raise awareness about women and heart disease. The need is great, as heart disease is the number one cause of death among women—with the risk even greater among African American women, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute—and yet most women don’t know about the threat.
“Our goal in Bringing Red Dress Sundays to our local communities in Charleston is to ensure that Charleston’s women know about heart disease, which is also the number one killer of women of color: how to recognize symptoms, how to treat it, and most importantly, how to prevent it in the first place,” said Garcia Williams, executive director of The Medi. “A key message will be that our hearts are not only important spiritually, but physically.”
Participating houses of worship are located across the Charleston tri-county area and currently include Mount Zion AME Church, Morris Street Baptist Church, and Greater St. Luke AME Church in downtown Charleston; Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Royal Missionary Baptist Church, and Holy Light Miracle Temple in North Charleston; St. Andrew’s Mission Church and Greater St. Peter’s Church in West Ashley; Friendship AME Church in Mount Pleasant; Revelation Church of Word and Deed in Goose Creek; Wesley United Methodist Church in Ladson; Summerville Miracle Revival Center; and Mt. Olivet Reformed Episcopal Church in Ravenel, with more congregations joining daily.
City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and first lady Sandy Tecklenburg, the honorary chairman of the event, will participate in the Red Dress Sunday service of Greater St. Luke AME Church on February 17.
Friendship AME Church, one of the local houses of worship that will hold a Red Dress Sunday this February, was glad to sign on. “Reverend Alonzo Redic, III and the Friendship African Methodist Episcopal Church wholeheartedly support Red Dress Sunday,” said G. Michelle Redic, the church’s first lady and also a registered nurse and doctor of nursing practice who works with a healthcare practice indirectly associated with The Medi. “Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women. It is our mission and pleasure to educate and empower women on the effects of this deadly disease.”
Charleston’s Red Dress Sundays sponsors include Heaven 100.1 FM, Hype Gospel Entertainment, The London Agency, and YWCA Greater Charleston.