Fairchild's mom was diabetic, which increases a woman's risk of stroke and heart disease. Fairchild believes now her mom probably had some mini-strokes before the major one in 1996, although at the time she and others thought the forgetfulness and confusion were just signs of her mom getting older.
"Once you see what the symptoms are, you can intervene," Fairchild said.
The sold-out luncheon is one of the organization's major fundraisers. Money raised locally supports research at LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport and health centers around the United States. The heart association also uses the yearly event to encourage women to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke through regular checkups, exercise and healthier eating.
Fairchild, 61, has her blood sugar tested every time she gets a checkup. She watches what she eats and works out, although she noted that it's harder to keep off weight since going through menopause.
"I'm not talking about it as an intellectual concept, I'm talking about it as a day-to-day battle," she said, chuckling. "I say it's sort of carpe diem, seize that moment. I've got a few minutes, why don't I walk around the block. Why don't I walk around the office, just to keep the blood moving, to keep everything moving."