Crowne Plaza Hotel
January 30, 2004

On January 30, 2004, the Mississippi Heart Truth campaign held a kickoff luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jackson. The Mississippi Red Dress, pictured just right of the podium, was on display along with four dresses from the national collection. Sponsored by Cardiovascular Associates and Cardiovascular Surgical Group, the Mississippi Red Dress is a Hamilton Kennedy creation by Mississippi designer Donna Kennedy Sones.

On February 6, the Red Dress Collection 2004 Fashion show will be held in Bryant Park in New York with 25 top designers. Because of our state's involvement with the Red Dress project, we have received an invitation to attend this prestigious event. A representative from the Mississippi Heart Truth campaign, Dr. Patricia Lawson, has also been invited by Mrs. Bush to the White House on Monday, February 2, to participate in a program about women and heart disease.

Kurt Metzner, chief executive officer of Baptist Health Systems, welcomed all attendees to the luncheon. He reiterated that we could all make a difference during the Mississippi Heart Truth campaign simply by encouraging women we know--in our businesses, our schools, our churches, our circles of friends and our families--to find out if they are at risk for heart disease, and if so, to take steps to reduce their risk.

Metzner saved special acknowledgement for Cindy Lynch, who works for Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a division of Schering-Plough and one of the sponsors of the luncheon. In the fall of 2003, Cindy approached Baptist with the seed of an idea. In her travels, she had seen the airport display promoting the Red Dress Project and awareness of heart disease in women. She asked, "How can we use this in our state to really make a difference in the lives of women?" Her idea fell on fertile ground. So far, more than 30 hospitals and 25 businesses and organizations have agreed to help spread the word that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Cindy's idea inspired the entire Mississippi Heart Truth campaign.

Betty Dickson, executive director of the Mississippi Nurses Association, recognized several special guests. She welcomed and recognized Representative Alyce Clark, Miss Mississippi Allison Kellogg , Dr. Caroline Norman and Stephanie Supple of Making a Difference Heart to Heart (Lafayette, LA), representatives from the Governor's office, representatives from Marsha Barbour's staff and Heather Williams and Laura Mulhern of Ogilvy Public Relations, the agency that created the Red Dress campaign.
Dr. Brian Amy, State Health Officer from the Mississippi State Department of Health, offered remarks on the status of women and heart disease in Mississippi. Mississippi has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the country. Dr. Amy spoke of the importance of the Heart Truth campaign to our state.

Ginger Cocke, director of corporate communications for Baptist Health Systems, introduced the keynote speaker, Beth Ruoff from Ogilvy Public Relations. She concentrated on explaining What's a red dress got to do with heart disease? Before any of the displayed dresses ever graced a designer's sketchpad or emerged from the cutting board in red fabric, they lived in the brain of the guest speaker, Beth Ruoff.


Beth Ruoff is the global creative director for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Her award-winning creative group provides Ogilvy clients with strategic, effective creative concepts for every medium, from print to broadcast to interactive. During her 16-year career at Ogilvy, Beth has worked on virtually every major government, association and private sector account. She specializes in the development of public health education campaigns, including The Red Dress Project for the National Institutes of Health/National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's The Heart Truth campaign.

Beth explained that her idea for the red dress came while she was staring at the contents of her crammed closet. One little black dress stood out of the clutter. She decided if the dress was red it could be the symbol for women to realize that heart disease is a woman's disease too. After many focus groups and creative tweakings, the Red Dress Project was born.

Sam Cameron, President/CEO of the Mississippi Hospital Association, explained that there's nothing pretty about heart disease. But the Mississippi Red Dress is a beautiful reminder that women can find out if they are at risk and then take steps to prevent heart disease. The Mississippi Red Dress is a creation by Mississippi designer Donna Kennedy Sones of Hamilton Kennendy. It is sponsored through the generosity of The Cardiovascular Surgical Clinic and Cardiovascular Associates. Donna and representatives from Cardiovascular Associates and Cardiovascular Surgical Clinic were recognized for their efforts.
Linda McMullen, general counsel for the Mississippi State Medical Association, announced that Marsha Barbour would serve as Honorary Chairwoman of the Mississippi Heart Truth campaign. She also introduced Alice Perry, Mrs. Barbour's Chief of Staff.
Alice Perry, chief of staff for Mrs. Barbour, represented Mrs. Barbour as the new Honorary Chairwoman of the Mississippi Heart Truth campaign. As Mississippi's First Lady, Marsha Barbour recognizes that every day Mississippi women are affected by heart disease. It is her desire and belief that we can do better in Mississippi with regard to our health status.