Lenoir business raises $10K for heart research

Co-worker's recent death from disease prompts generosity

By Hugh Willett  knoxnews.com

Prompted by the death of a co-worker, employees at the Yale Locks and Hardware Co. in Lenoir City didn't wait for today's National Wear Red Day and raised $10,000 for heart disease research in an event held Thursday.

It was a lot of money for the small group of workers to raise, said Brenda Gossage, an industrial nurse at Yale. Planning began less than one month ago, and involved representatives from every department in the company, she said.

"Our people pulled together and made this happen," Gossage said.

More than 200 employees of the company were joined by another 60 or more supporters of the cause at a pre-Super Bowl luncheon held at the company on Thursday. Many were motivated by the fact that co-worker Vicky Bell passed away from heart disease at age 57 just the day before.

"Workers in her department alone were able to raise $3,000," Gossage said.

The luncheon featured food donated by employees and prizes donated by local businesses. Anyone buying a $5 ticket to the event was eligible to win prizes. T-shirts commemorating the event were also distributed.

Prizes donated by car dealerships such as Ted Russell Ford and Tilly-Lane included free oil changes and other services. Restaurants including Applebee's, Chili's, Olive Garden and Calhoun's donated gift certificates for dining. Walmart and Curves also provided gifts, Gossage said.

When the total amount raised for the event reached about $9,800, plant manager Richard Krajewski personally donated more than $200 to put the fund over the $10,000 level, she said.

People across the country are donning red clothing today to raise awareness of heart disease among young women. Since 2002 the American heart Association has designated the first Friday in February as National Wear Red Day.

As a nurse, Gossage said she is very aware of the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., but sadly, many women are not aware of the risk they face.

Much of the focus and publicity about heart disease and heart attacks is based around helping men recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, she said. Women might assume that the risk factors and symptoms they read so much about relating to men, must be the same for women.

"The symptom's of heart disease or heart attacks for women can be very different than those for men," Gossage said. "Women need to educate themselves about the differences."