LaTonya Duncan’s personal and familial history of heart disease inspired her to host an annual fundraising fashion show. “Everyone in my family has heart disease,” Duncan said in an email. She told WSFA 12 News that her family’s heart conditions include "strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, enlarged hearts.”
Duncan said she has high blood pressure, an enlarged heart and mitral valve prolapse, and suffered a stroke in 2015. “That really hit home,” she added. Additionally, her husband had two strokes in 2018. Two of her sons also have heart problems; the oldest has high blood pressure and one has heart palpitations.
From 2013 to 2018, Duncan raised funds as part of the Go Red for Women movement for the Montgomery, Ala., chapter of the American Heart Association. A suggestion that she take her efforts to a new level and on her own inspired her to form 1 Heart in 2018. The not-for-profit organization focuses on providing financial assistance and copays to local uninsured heart patients.
“We will do this (fashion) show yearly in February around American Heart Health month, but throughout the year we attend health fairs and pass out information about 1 Heart and we do charity-based events as well around Christmas for the kids in the community,” she said.
Masterpiece 2019 was the organization’s inaugural event and “was a huge hit with 500 in attendance,” Duncan said. The 2020 show attracted about 300, raising more than $4,000, according to 1 Heart’s Facebook page.
“I love fashion,” said Duncan, a fashion designer. “My whole thing is to educate you and then throw you a little fashion … to keep the audience entertained.”