‘Speaking of Women’s Health’

Wave-3 TV news anchor Gee
to speak in Madison

Brain cancer survivor
to present keynote address

MADISON, Ind. (April 2013) – The theme of this year’s “Speaking of Women’s Health” conference is “Share Good Health.” So it is only fitting that organizers have selected a keynote speaker who fully lives this message.
WAVE 3 TV news anchor Dawne Gee is committed to the idea that “Health is your first wealth.” While best known to many area residents for her broadcast work, Gee also serves as a board member of the American Red Cross and the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky, and she volunteers for eight other health organizations. She explains this passion for health saying, “My family is a medical mess!” In addition to her personal health challenges, she also points out that, “Most of the women in my family are cancer survivors.”

Dawn Gee

Gee understands that health challenges can turn everyday activities into a struggle. “It’s a battle when you are trying to have a full and happy life.”
Paula Heiderman, Executive Director of Resource Development at Ivy Tech Community College, believes that Gee will connect well with conference attendees. “Women can relate to Dawne Gee. We can remember Dawne sharing her struggles with a brain tumor on WAVE 3 TV, while we sat in our living rooms. She is such a positive role model for women who are struggling with health-related issues. As she continues to confront health complications today, she does it with such grace and her optimism is uplifting to us all.” 
Ivy Tech Community College will play host to the Speaking of Women’s Health conference on April 13. The sold out event will feature 15 breakout sessions presented by area health professionals, health screenings, plus a market of local vendors. Heiderman notes that the benefits of the conference are not limited to attendees, since “All proceeds will build upon the existing Speaking of Women’s Health Scholarship endowment to help Ivy Tech Community College nursing students secure a meaningful career.”
This year’s conference will also recognize Mary Kay Butler as the 2013 Honoree for Speaking of Women’s Health. A registered nurse, Butler is a founding member supporter of the Madison Nurses Networking Organization and serves on the advisory board for Ivy Tech Community College School of Nursing Southeast Region. Steering Committee member Cheryl Patton says of the conference, “It is a great day for 500-plus women to get together and learn about women’s health, getting your lab work done, having fun pictures taken, learning how to go green, learning safe ways to exercise no matter what your age. We have several speakers that will help our ladies learn a little bit more about heart health, eating right, shopping healthy, menopause, and self- defense for women, and lots more. It is such a high energy day – full of fun and friendship.”
This year’s conference marks the second time that Ivy Tech has hosted the event. Heiderman says, “The National Speaking of Women’s Health works with hospitals throughout the country to host this educational-filled conference. The Madison Speaking of Women’s Health conference was held in partnership with King’s Daughters’ Health 11 years in a row on the beautiful campus of Hanover College through 2008.”
A loss of sponsors due to the economic downturn meant that the Madison area was unable to host a conference for a few years, but last year saw its return with Ivy Tech hosting about 350 attendees. 
While the event allows women a chance to educate themselves about vital health issues, Heiderman explains that the event is anything but cold and clinical. She says that organizers work to encourage “An environment of beauty and pampering. From our previous Speaking of Women’s Health events, we know participants like to be surrounded by uplifting décor, pampered with screenings and presented with gifts.”
In keeping with the theme of “Share Good Health,” Heiderman says, “We find women attending with their friends and women attending with their families. In some cases the mother, daughter and grandmother come together. Women who learn together, grow together. ”
Conference organizers hope that the event will help women realize that they cannot fully take care of others if they do not attend to their own health. “Many women manage multiple roles, including parent, spouse, caregiver, employee, yet recognition of the impact on their own and their families’ health and economic well-being is sometimes overlooked,” Heiderman says. “Mothers who work outside the home are often in the difficult position of balancing family health and responsibilities with employment obligations. This balancing act becomes even more challenging for low-income women who are often the sole breadwinners and are primarily responsible for managing the health of their children and other relatives.”
Kathy Ayers, Administrative Assistant for Events, agrees, saying, “I think it is important for women to celebrate being a woman and be educated about their health and learn to make themselves important in their own lives. Their families will benefit from the knowledge they gain at this conference. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Have a daughter and four granddaughters myself, I can’t think of a better way to teach them how important being strong, healthy and in charge of their lives really is – and that is the exact mission of Speaking of Women’s Health.”

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