"Even though it's not a great life, I'm still able to somewhat function ... I've been disabled since 2007, been unable to work," said Pasek, 40, who has been residing at Avonlea Highlands since May. "I worked at Cartersville High School as a school nutritional assistant, and I miss my job every day because I'm unable to work. I don't know [what] each day brings. I have to take it day by day. Some days I'll be laying in bed, and other days I feel OK enough to venture out and go grocery shopping or have lunch with friends.
"Someone told me that, 'If you have 12 spoons for the whole day, you get up and that's one spoon, you eat breakfast, that's another spoon, and your spoons are gone before the day's over. And that's the best way I can describe how I feel. ... I guess I took life for granted until this happened to me. I never knew the impact -- heart disease is the number one killer for women."
An initiative of the American Heart Association, Go Red For Women encourages people to share their heart-related stories, eat healthy, contribute financially and become political advocates on behalf of policies that support the advancement of lessening heart disease's impact on women.
According to www.goredforwomen.org, "In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention. In fact, many even dismissed it as an 'older man's disease.' To dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women -- a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health. ... Go Red For Women encourages awareness of the issue of women and heart disease, and also action to save more lives.
"The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power women have to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenges them to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. It also gives them the tools they need to lead a heart healthy life. In 2010, the American Heart Association set a strategic goal of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20 percent while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent by the year 2020."
On Friday, Avonlea Highlands' Go Red For Women benefit will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. outside its clubhouse, 950 E. Main St. in Cartersville. During the offering, people can purchase red dress lapel pins for $5 each and place financial donations, both of which will go toward Pasek's account with the Georgia Transplant Foundation.
"My position at Avonlea Highlands -- I'm what they call the Grace Team -- my husband and I," Michelle Wheeling said. "Basically we're here for residents, to make them [feel] at home, to make this more of a community-type atmosphere. We do welcome visits with our residents and [provide] birthday balloons. We host little dinners, just to appreciate our residents. But me and one of the other girls working here in the office, we decided that we wanted to get more involved in community service and do some community outreach.
"So we had been searching for some projects to do and Lynette happened to approach me last month. We knew her heart was in bad shape, but she [said], 'For definite, I'm about to have to have a heart transplant.' So ... we just felt like [for] our community service and community outreach, we needed to outreach to her. She's a very, very sweet lady. She's awesome, just very friendly, very warm. When you meet her, you just feel like you've known her all your life."
Following the fundraiser, people still can support Pasek financially by visiting www.gatransplant.org and then selecting "fundraising accounts" and "individual fundraising pages," followed by inserting Pasek's name. For more information about Friday's event, call Avonlea Highlands at 770-387-0900.