This year’s Denver Life Magazine Designer Showhouse is bigger and better than anything we’ve done in years past. The tradition began in 2013 with our first showhouse, and this year, we’ve partnered with the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, taking more lives than all cancers combined. As in the past, 100 percent of the proceeds raised—more than $235,000 to date—through this unique fundraising project will be used to support local efforts.
We spoke with Sara Schueneman, senior vice president for the American Heart Association, about the great work they do and how the proceeds from the 2021 Denver Life Magazine Designer Showhouse will support their cause within the state of Colorado.
The American Heart Association (AHA) works throughout Colorado communities to build a culture of health in which improved choices are easy and accessible. “The AHA is dedicated to creating a healthier Colorado for all and is working to ensure that future generations not only survive but thrive,” Schueneman says.
Specific programs that will benefit from the funds raised include reducing teen tobacco use. “In Denver, more than 25 percent of teens say they vape, and many falsely believe that e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products are safe,” Schueneman says. The AHA works with community organizations to create stronger regulation of the design, manufacturing, sales, and marketing of all tobacco products to get them out of the hands of local teens.
Impacting food insecurity is another priority. “One in 10 Coloradans, including one in six children and one in 10 seniors is considered to be food insecure, and do not know where their next meal will come from,” Schueneman says. “Making nutritious food more accessible and affordable is critical to cardiovascular health.”
The AHA along with Anythink Libraries, the City of Thornton, Lulu’s Farm, and the Tri-County Health Department to host weekly farmers markets that make healthy, fresh produce options accessible and affordable. Attendees can learn about healthy cooking and nutrition, and food assistance services such as SNAP and WIC are accepted as payment. She adds that, in 2020, more than 2,700 Denver Metro residents were able to purchase affordable, heart-healthy produce at these markets.
The AHA is also focused on making CPR knowledge ubiquitous: “More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital each year,” Schueneman says. “Currently, about 90 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die; survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby.” In 2020, the AHA distributed more than 900 CPR Anytime kits to Colorado residents. With these kits, people can learn CPR skills in about 20 minutes in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.
Schueneman is excited to be part of this year’s showhouse event. “The American Heart Association is honored to be teaming up with Denver Life to bring the mission of the organization into the heart of the community and share the exciting work that’s being done to improve the heart health of the community,” she says. “Nationally and locally, the AHA are crusaders and champions of innovation and discovery, and we place a big priority on research to help find cures for heart disease and stroke.
In Colorado, there are 30 active research projects that we’re currently funding worth over $5 million. This research helps to drive advancements towards better treatment for a wide range of cardiovascular disease. And we can’t fund this lifesaving research without generous sponsors, donors, and supporters like the Denver Life Showhouse.”