Remembering Yolanda King and Her Stroke Awareness Campaign
Memorial Day is a time to honor all soldiers and veterans who have died. I covered an annual Memorial Day service held in my hometown and many of the people told me the day is also a time to remember those soldiers still living and currently fighting in Iraq. Others told me they spend the day remembering other loved ones who have passed away, even if they weren’t in the armed forces.
And with the passing of Yolanda King this month, there is no doubt many people had a special thought for her.
King was the eldest child of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She was an actress and motivational speaker who pursued her father’s dream of racial harmony.
She was also the first national Ambassador of the American Stroke Association’s Power to End Stroke campaign. She worked hard to build stroke awareness especially among African Americans. In fact, just before she died, she was honored with a national award from the association to recognize her efforts in reaching African Americans about stroke.
According to the American Stroke Association, 72 percent of African Americans do not think that will ever have a stroke, but about 100,000 will have one this year.
While anyone can have a stroke, African Americans have twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared to whites. That’s why it’s important to know your family’s history and work with doctors on plans to prevent and manage stroke risks. Stroke is not inevitable, but taking actions now, even against one risk factor, can help reduce the risk of having a stroke.
In the Power to End Stroke campaign, there is a pledge: POWER.
Put down the cigarettes and stop smoking.
Observe advice from your doctor and know your family’s history.
Watch your weight and be physically active at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Eat healthy foods; avoid foods high in saturated fat and sodium.
Regulate and control high blood pressure and diabetes.
Yolanda King was passionate about getting people to take this pledge, especially since her mother Coretta Scott King had suffered a stroke. She died in January of 2006 after battling ovarian cancer and the effects of a stroke. It was her mother’s death that prompted her to work with the American Heart Association and help others prevent this deadly disease.
Yolanda King died at the age of 51 this month. While the cause of death is unknown, her family suspects heart problems. However, the work she did with equal rights and stroke awareness will live on.
Learn more about stroke prevention and treatment.