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story.lead_photo.caption Brandi Hamilton, from left, Keli Colvin, Beth Nix, holding her daughter Eloise Nix, and Stephanie Goodwin pose for a picture during a community luncheon Feb. 1. The luncheon was in honor of National Go Red Day to help bring awareness of heart disease. Hamilton, who is the senior solutions specialist at ACDI in Benton, said her mom, Margaret Murray, died from heart failure in 2016. - Photo by Mark Buffalo

Heart disease is something Brandi Hamilton knows very well. Her mom, Margaret Murray, died from heart failure in 2016 at age 52.

“That is far too young for any one of us to go,” Hamilton said. “The ACDI (Access Control Devices Inc.), team is working hard to empower women to recognize the early warning signs of [heart disease] and the resources that are provided to protect our hearts in every way.”

ACDI, a technology-focused company in Benton, wants to raise awareness of heart disease, especially in women, after Hamilton’s mom died from complications of A-fib. Hamilton, who is the senior solutions specialist at ACDI, said the key for her is to get the awareness out there.

“That’s my main objective here,” she said. “I didn’t know the severity of A-fib until I had to deal with it with my mother.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Saline County ranks higher than Arkansas and the United States in the percentage of people diagnosed with diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Stephanie Goodwin, the people and culture manager at ACDI, said it is pretty alarming “how higher our county is compared to the national average.”

“I think awareness [is one of the key factors]. There hasn’t been enough information circulated, so we are trying to get the word out.”

In an effort to raise awareness, ACDI hosted a Go Red for Women event Feb. 1, which consisted of a healthy lunch and a chance for guests to meet survivors of heart disease. ACDI has also planned a community event for Feb. 14 that includes little boxes of chocolates with heart-disease facts attached to them.

“As people and culture manager, my job is to make sure our people are taken care of and our culture is maintained by reaching out to the community,” Goodwin said. “Philanthropy is really important and our main focus.

“We have had several local businesses join alongside us and help us out. We want to get the word out and be involved as much as possible.”

ACDI’s main goal is to raise money for the 15th annual Go Red Luncheon, which will take place May 17 at the Little Rock Marriott. Tickets for the event are $200 each. The expo and auction will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the program at noon.

Goodwin, who is originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, said ACDI’s drive to partner with the Go Red for Women initiative started last year, after she learned of the statistics for Saline County.

“The signs for heart disease are pretty subtle,” Goodwin said. “They usually consist of pain, discomfort, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, a cold sweat and exhaustion.

“They are similar to heart-attack symptoms. Women are more likely to experience nausea or vomiting, but it could appear as normal exhaustion.”

Goodwin said ACDI is partnering with the River Center in Benton in an effort to reduce women’s risk for heart disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, about one in three women don’t get enough physical activity.

“We have great technology at our fingertips to get women more active,” she said. “So that will be a huge push for us as well.”

The River Center in Benton has cardio equipment and strength equipment and is available to all members, ages 12 and older.

Goodwin said the ACDI will also partner with other businesses in downtown Benton, including Smith Caldwell Pharmacy and Burger Shack.

“The community has been extremely supportive,” Goodwin said. “The Benton and Bryant school districts went ‘red’ on Friday with us and sent us some pictures.”

“We have to support each other when we have events like this,” Hamilton said.

For more information on the Go Red Luncheon, visit www.heart.org.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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