Many diseases are non-discriminatory, equally affecting people of all ages, races and ethnicities. Unfortunately, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are among the few that do not follow this protocol, putting those in the African-American and Hispanic communities more at risk than Caucasians. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of death among Connecticut's African-Americans (3.8) and Hispanics (2.2) in comparison with Caucasians.

"Fashion From the Heart," a one-night fashion and comedy extravaganza, spotlights the dangers of heart disease, stroke and diabetes among the African-American and Hispanic communities. Each year, event organizers honor individuals who have worked to improve the cardiovascular health of minorities in the region.

This year, coordinators for the upcoming "Fashion From The Heart" event have identified Stamford Hospital's Associate Chair of Medicine Dr. Maria Maldonado, F.A.C.P., the Stamford Emergency Medical Services (SEMS) and News 12 Host and Producer Gwendolyn Taylor Edwards for their life-saving efforts in the community. Representatives from Stamford Hospital and the Fairfield County Chapter of The Links, Incorporated will recognize them at the March 13 event for the following:

Dr. Maria Maldonado, F.A.C.P for her commitment to providing first-class patient care to underserved populations, mentoring the hospital's medical residents and educating the African-American community about major health concerns.

Maldonado is Stamford Hospital's Associate chairman of medicine and served as the medical director of ambulatory services from 2006 through 2009 before assuming the position of program director for the internal medicine residency program in July of 2009.

Stamford Emergency Medical Services (SEMS) for its special commitment to raise awareness of heart disease and teach CPR in the community.

It offers 24/7 emergency medical care as well as a variety of health education programs to the community including a CPR Education program, available to groups throughout Southwestern Connecticut. SEMS has long been affiliated with the Stamford Health System, and hospital physicians train paramedics in new, on-the-scene techniques to help improve the survival rates of incoming cardiac patients.

Taylor Edwards is being recognized for her work in raising awareness regarding health disparities and the prevalence of heart disease and diabetes among the show's predominantly African-American viewing audience. Edwards, host and producer of News 12 Connecticut's weekly talk show, "Our Lives," is an award-winning broadcast journalist with more than 25 years of experience at broadcast stations in Connecticut, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The fourth annual "Fashion From the Heart" event will feature today's top designers in children, women and men's wear.

The audience will also enjoy comedic theatrical skits, called theater shorts, to educate and entertain them about heart disease and prevention.

The event is on Saturday, March 13, from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Palace Theater, 61 Atlantic Street in Stamford. Tickets cost $20, and can be reserved by calling 203-504-8400.

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About the Sponsors

"Fashion from the Heart" is made possible through a partnership between Stamford Hospital and the Fairfield County Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and is produced by Her Game 2 Productions of Stamford.

Stamford Hospital is a not-for-profit, community teaching hospital that has been serving Stamford and surrounding communities for more than 100 years. The hospital has a long tradition of community education and outreach, including programs such as Paint the Town Pink and the Power to End Stroke.

The Fairfield County Chapter of The Links Incorporated, is part of an international volunteer service organization of over 10,000 accomplished women. In 2006, the chapter launched "Your Link to Health" to raise awareness about the unique health concerns that disproportionately affect African Americans and people of color.