Divas paint the town red

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Pomfret - posted Mon., Dec. 3, 2012
Red dresses formed a centerpiece in Hyde Cultural Center. Photos by D. Coffey.
Red dresses formed a centerpiece in Hyde Cultural Center. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Hyde Cultural Center auditorium was filled with the color red on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 for the “Red Dress Divas Holiday Spectacular.” From the lobby, where four red dresses formed an elegant centerpiece, to the auditorium doorways, where women in red dress took tickets and handed out programs, red was the color of the evening. And celebration was the reason for the gathering.

Broadway Live productions, in partnership with the Northeast District Department of Health and HealthQuest Northeast Connecticut, presented a multi-media extravaganza that included video, song, dance and drama. The show celebrated the culmination of “Follow the Fifty,” a women’s heart health program that provided education and tools to help women take action against heart disease.

The show, lasting more than two and a half hours, combined skits and video clips of the journeys of 134 women who were selected to be models in the “Follow the Fifty” program. The initiative was supposed to follow 50 women, but the response to the program was so tremendous that the NDDH decided to follow 50 teams of women. Slides showed the models and their coaches in a variety of program events. Program Manager Linda Colangelo wrote the script for a skit that was interwoven throughout the show. In it characters provided facts and figures about heart health and heart disease.

But perhaps the most eloquent moments were when the models reached out to take each other’s hands on stage during their introductions. One by one, they walked on stage. One by one, they took their places until the stage was full. They epitomized the spirit of the program with the simple gesture of reaching out to each other. Supported by coaches, family, the community at large, and each other, these women made changes to make their lives healthier. The Red Dress Diva show was all about celebrating their successes as well as giving back to their communities.

The program was sponsored by a $100,000 grant from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health as part of a public-private partnership with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Colangelo said the program was incredibly successful. By the end of nine months, the women had lost a combined 1,500 pounds. The collective body mass index dropped 258 points. They lost a total of 742 inches from their necks, waists and hips. “Red Dress Divas” celebrated every step the women took along the way.


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