FORT WORTH -- Jenna Bush Hager remembers a 26-year-old mother who lived in a dirt-floor home in Guatemala and struggled to feed five children on $5 a week.
She had already lost one child to malnutrition. Hoping to save the others, the mother walked four hours a week to get a vitamin-rich powder to sprinkle on her children's food -- and was thankful that people cared enough to educate her.
Spreading such information is crucial to the fight for better health, the daughter of former President George W. Bush said Friday in a speech at the Go Red for Women luncheon at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel benefiting the American Heart Association of Tarrant County.
She wove stories from her childhood in the White House, her work as a teacher and her time with UNICEF into a single message about education.
"When people are educated, they are much more able to prevent disease," Hager said. "As women, the important thing is we support each other and spread awareness."
In particular, Hager wants to do her part to destroy the myth that heart disease affects only men. It is the No. 1 cause of death in women over 20.
About 1,250 women in the United States die of cardiovascular disease every day -- about one death per minute, according to the American Heart Association.
Hager got a personal lesson on women and heart disease in 2009 when her grandmother's aortic valve was replaced with a pig valve. Since then, former first lady Barbara Bush has had to put up with a few oinks from family members, but she is doing well, Hager said.
"She's back a hundred percent and is her feisty and fun self again," she said.
Hager recently moved from Baltimore to New York and works as a correspondent for NBC's Today show.
She encouraged the audience to support the fight against heart disease in women.
"If there is anything I have learned, it is that life is a precious gift, privilege and opportunity as much as it is a responsibility to help people in need," Hager said.
Jan Jarvis, 817-390-7664