Fashion, philanthropy and a little bit -- actually, a whole lot -- of fun merged together for one night at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City for the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection, where celebrities strutted the catwalk wearing top designer dresses for a good cause: heart disease awareness.
More than a dozen celebrities and one Connecticut heart disease survivor donned dresses in all hues of red to raise awareness of the disease, which is the No. 1 killer of women across the nation, ahead of New York Fashion Week.
Kris, Kendall and Kylie Jenner in Badgley Mischka, Minka Kelly in Oscar de la Renta, Kelly Osbourne in Zac Posen, Gabby Douglas in Pamella Roland, Toni Braxton in Herve L. Leroux and more famous faces walked the runway for the show sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, each of whom shared their individual stories about how heart disease affected them.
But one story stood out in the minds of all in attendance, and it was the first noncelebrity participant in the show's 10-year history: 55-year-old Cindy Parsons.
Parsons, who was joined by her fellow participants in the Follow the Fifty campaign, drew the most cheers of the entire show from the sea of red in the crowd.
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After losing her mother to heart disease, Parsons and her daughter joined her local community program and took action before her own health was at risk. Nowadays, Parsons is happy and heart-healthy with lower blood pressure and a lower BMI, not to mention 77 pounds lighter.
Parsons and the rest of the Follow the Fifty campaign is just one community helped by the Heart Truth, which began in 2002 to warn women about heart disease and provides tools to help them take action against its risk factors. The national campaign began the Red Dress the following year as a tool of inspiration for women who take action when it comes to heart health. The iconic color and silhouette of a red dress, according to the campaign, "serves as a red alert for women reminding them of the Heart Truth message: "Heart disease doesn't care what you wear -- it's the No.1 killer of women.'"
Along with this red alert -- reminding women that it's never to early to take action -- came a red-hot catwalk. Wendy Williams in Kamali Kulture sashayed with her hands in the air, while Roselyn Sánchez in Tadashi Shoji shook her booty to Gloria Estefan's "Conga."
Needless to say, the crowd, which included the likes of Heather McDonald, Robert Verdi, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander, was having just as much fun as the celebrity participants.