MADISON (WKOW) -- One in three women will suffer from heart disease of some kind in her lifetime, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), making heart disease the number one killer of adult women in the U.S.
That's why the local AHA has teamed up with 27 News and local women to increase heart health awareness in Dane County as part of the "Go Red for Women Girlfriends Challenge."
The challenge kicked off Tuesday. Nearly 60 women applied to take part in the program and 14 were chosen. They have different family histories, different diets and different lifestyles, but all of them are coming together to fight one common enemy: heart disease.
"It's scary. You think, 'What have I done with myself? I haven't done anything to get healthy,'" said Barb Meister, whose father had his first heart attack when he was 43 years old. Barb is 43 right now, and she says now is the time to get healthy.
Each one of these women has her own reason for being here.
Pat Swartout is a smoker who's trying to quit.
Jennifer Stephens has been an athlete all my life says she needs something to get her going.
Over the next 12 weeks, these women will keep track of what they eat, drink, and how much they exercise, counting every step of the way with a podometer.
"I've found that it's motivated me to do more walking on my lunch hour. And the days that I've walked at lunch and gone to my health club after work, I've had over 14,000 steps. That's huge!" said Lisa Olmstead.
They'll take pictures, go to weekly meetings and blog about the entire experience. It's a new year and a new beginning for these women, who are ready to make a change and make a difference.
"I'm really excited to get started and I can't wait until the end just to see where we all end up!" said Melissa Mael.
This year, WKOW 27 News has a team of its own three women.
Join 27 News' Diana Henry, Elishah Oesch and Jamie Hersch as they take part in the Girlfriends Challenge.