Firefighter Models, Powerful Survivor Stories and $677,000 Raised Turn The Woodlands Red — Fighting Heart Disease Together

A First Responders Fashion Show That Makes Everyone Smile

BY Laura Landsbaum // 05.29.23
photography Doris Paniagua

Chaired by Lonny Soza and Elvira Graham with a flair, the 2023 Go Red for Women Luncheon at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott turned the township red — and set a powerful tone of fighting heart disease and standing up for women’s health. A moving video introduced survivor Donna Kammer, who shared the story of her medical journey from breast cancer survivor to heart transplant recipient.

Kammer underwent surgery in 2016 to remove a tumor from her breast and resumed her active life. But after a hiking vacation through Montana’s Glacier National Park, she experienced shortness of breath and dizziness, which she attributed to elevation and exertion. However, when Kammer returned to Texas and went back to work, she could no longer ignore her symptoms.

She was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure caused by the chemotherapy she went through for her cancer. As a former cancer patient, Kammer needed to be cancer free for five years to be eligible for a heart transplant. A patient of Dr. Jessica Brown at St. Luke’s Hospital, Kammer was treated with medications and a vest she wore 24 hours a day until a left ventricular assist device could be implanted.

She spent several years with an LVAD implanted in her chest, which required extensive daily care.  In 2021, Kammer finally received the call that a donor heart was finally available, and the LVAD was removed and her new heart implanted. This survivor’s remarks concluded with a call for women to not ignore warning signs of health issues, which nearly cost her her own life.

Also recognized with a Community Volunteer Award was Ron Mullins, who has trained more than 3,500 people in hands-only CPR. Like Mullins, this luncheon did a lot of good with $677,000 raised to fight heart disease.

Hosts Lonny Soza and Elvira Graham chaired the Go Red for Women Luncheon in The Woodlands.

After lunch, guests were treated to the First Responder Fashion Show, featuring clothing from Tom James and J. Crew.  The dozen men on the runway were from local fire departments, the Montgomery County Constables and Sheriff’s offices, and Memorial Hermann’s Northeast Hospital.  A surprise finale featured the group in swim trunks.

The Go Red afternoon was emceed by David Deveau, who took the crowd through spirited bidding on two auction items — a 12 person private luncheon created by Tris Chef Austin Simmons which raised $6,000, and a dinner for 12 at the Woodlands Fire Department, prepared by the staff of the firehouse, that ended up going for $4,500. Thomas Markle Jewelers also donated a pair of diamond earrings for the raffle.

After the luncheon, Post Oak Motors held a VIP event at the luxury car dealership hosted by Lonny Soza.

PC Seen: Amy and Tony Torres, Missy Herndon, JJ Hollie, Dr. Ann Snyder, Blake Fertitta, Christen Kaufman, Shirelle Chimenti, Jim Parisi, Lisa Fenley, George Lindahl, Diane and Bruce Kink, and Angela and Bret Strong.

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