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Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Vollmer to deliver keynote address at May 3, 2013 Go Red For Women Luncheon in Santa Rosa

Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Vollmer to deliver keynote address at May 3, 2013 Go Red For Women Luncheon in Santa Rosa

(SANTA ROSA – April 26, 2013) St. Joseph Health is proud to sponsor four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Vollmer at the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Luncheon on Friday, May 3 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa.

Go Red For Women is celebrating its 10th year of educating women about heart disease, their No. 1 health threat. As the "Sonoma County Goes Red" sponsor, Kaiser Permanente is also supporting the Go Red For Women Luncheon, one of Sonoma County's most popular springtime fundraisers.

Vollmer, a Bay Area resident, overcame a life-threatening heart defect to win three Gold Medals in the 2012 London Olympics and one in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Vollmer, who began swimming as a young girl in Granbury, Texas, was diagnosed with long QT syndrome right before her Olympic debut in 2004. She was only 15 at the time, and she and her family were faced with implanting a defibrillator in Dana to treat the potentially fatal syndrome, which can cause sudden cardiac arrest. That decision would have meant an end to Dana's Olympic dreams.

Her mother decided instead to carry an automated external defibrillator, AED, to every training match, every swim meet – and eventually to the Olympics. Vollmer learned how to focus on her goal – even as the threat of death hung over her. Sudden cardiac arrest kills 2,000 people nationwide under the age of 25 every year, and athletes have three times the risk of death. In Sonoma County alone, an estimated 10 people of all ages die of sudden cardiac arrest every week, according to experts in treating heart rhythm disorders.

"Stories like Dana Vollmer's inspire us in our work as the North Coast's regional leader in cardiovascular care," said Rhonda R. Foster, EdD, MPH, MS, RN, NEA-BC, who serves as Chief Nursing Officer for St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County. "Thanks to the research and education Dana supports through her efforts with the American Heart Association, more and more people in our community have their own stories of survival to share. Dana and her mother remind us how each of us can make a difference in helping to save a life."

As Vollmer trained for the 2012 Olympics, she began volunteering for the American Heart Association, speaking out about the need for dollars to devote to research so athletes, as well as everyone else, can pursue their dreams without fearing their hearts may stop. As a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, Vollmer has appeared at Wear Red fashion shows in New York and Silicon Valley and Go Red luncheons in San Jose, San Francisco, Anchorage and Las Vegas.

Go Red For Women is a movement launched in 2004 to educate women about heart disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans. It is the American Heart Association's campaign to encourage women to lead healthier lives by exercising, eating well, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and watching blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Event details:

Go Red for Women luncheon

Keynote Speaker Dana Vollmer will address the Luncheon at

9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 3, 2013

Hyatt Vineyard Creek, Santa Rosa

For more information about the luncheon, please contact Stacey Gibbons, Go Red For Women director, at or (707) 396-7525. A limited number of tickets remain available for the luncheon. Log on to to learn more.

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