First ladies from across Los Angeles County converged on the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 16 for the Third Annual First Ladies Health Initiative Luncheon (FLHI).
The women met to consider the many pressing and disproportionate health issues facing the African-American community in disproportionate numbers.
Dr. Betty Price of Crenshaw Christian Center served as the event chair and Evelyn Perkins, first lady of True Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, was co-chair. Walgreens Community Affairs Director John Gremer and FLHI Executive Director Tracey Alston were also on hand.
Sherri Shepherd, talk show host of TV’s “The View,” utilized her award-winning TV format to interview medical professionals about health crisis plaguing the black community.
She asked each expert to give a bottom-line appeal to the audience to assist with outreach and education. Also, the experts gave tips on prevention and how changes in diet and exercise can stave off many conditions.
As part of the program, startling health statistics were highlighted, causing some to gasp. Mario Perez with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that Los Angeles is the second largest epicenter of HIV/Aids in the nation and that heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes are leading causes of death among African Americans. He added that many chronic conditions that strike African Americans are preventable.
Keynote speaker Sherri Shepherd used her “laugh-at-life” comedic storytelling approach to describe living with Type-2 diabetes, but this punch line called for self-responsibility. With a tragic family history of diabetes (her mother died at age 41 due to complications of the disease), Shepherd revealed how a close walk with God gave her the inspiration she needed to fight, declaring, “God doesn’t give up on you.” After an initial stage of denial, she felt empowered to face diabetes head on, and over a year’s time, dropped 50 pounds.
The First Ladies Health Initiative is a two-pronged preventative health measure sponsored by Walgreens. The annual luncheon serves as the official kick-off, giving way for the ‘First Ladies Health Day’ in May of 2014.
Participating first ladies will host free health screenings and disseminate information at their churches. Several medical organizations, including Walgreens pharmacies and the California Department of Public Health, will volunteer to provide screenings and counseling.
To learn more about how your church can participate in the First Ladies Health Day, visit firstladieshealth.com.