MERRILLVILLE | With a little help, Bella Bahus climbed the three steps to the stage and claimed her tiara and title of "princess of the day."
It was the second time this month the LaPorte 6-year-old born with a congenital heart defect, in a red dress with gold shimmer and a red bow at the waist, was dubbed princess at a heart-healthy event.
"The American Heart Association was Bella's knight in shining armor," said her mother, Angie Bahus, in a video presentation about her daughter.
Thursday marked the American Heart Association's annual Go Red for Women Educational Symposium and Luncheon.
Nearly 400 people, mostly women and mostly clad in red, attended the event, presented at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza and corporately sponsored by Methodist Hospitals and Fifth Third Bank.
“The Go Red for Women movement is so critical in raising awareness and funds for lifesaving research and education programs in our communities, and Methodist Hospitals is excited to work again with such a dynamic group of volunteers in making this year’s campaign a success," stated Dr. Michael Davenport, president and interim CEO of Methodist Hospitals.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States and claims more lives than all cancers combined, according to the Heart Association. One of every three women will die from heart disease.
Thursday's luncheon included free cardiovascular health screenings, exhibits and recognition of the women featured in the annual Go Red calendar.
Keynote speaker Theresa Behenna, an Australian pianist and motivational speaker, punctuated her talk with stints at the piano, encouraging the group to join in the chicken dance and YMCA dance.
She energized the group with "Great Balls of Fire" and propped a foot on the piano bench and pounded at the keys to play a Lady Gaga song.
Between songs, she shared nuggets of advice about the important "three shades of red" in life – following a passion, taking risks and learning lessons from embarrassing moments.
"Passion is the beginning of living life large," she said.
Behenna encouraged the crowd to follow their passion and ignore the naysayers and fear.
"Fear is what you pass on your way to success," she said.
Courtesy of the Times