Roberta Baines-Wheeler Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness events held

Dr. Katherine Y. Brown (center) with student volunteers from Meharry Medical College.

The Roberta Baines Wheeler (RBW) Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Awareness Group, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing awareness of PH and building healthier communities, in celebration of its sixth year, is hosting a series of free programs in November for the community. The first was its 6th annual RBW PH Awareness Day on Saturday, November 3, 2018, at Vanderbilt Wellness and Recreation Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Among the other events was the RBW PH Awareness Sunday, held November 4, 2018, at Lee Chapel AME Church with a panel discussion and reception honoring Caregivers immediately following service; and RBW PH Awareness Line Dancing at Hadley Park on November 5, 2018. Coming on November 28, 2018, will be KYB Leadership Academy Caregiver Appreciation Day at Cathedral of Praise Church. So far, the first three events have reached over 1000 people, with a target audience of patients, caregivers, families, medical professionals, volunteers, and community.

The first free event was an exemplary day of awareness, empowerment, and hope. Dr. Katherine Y. Brown explained, “Six years ago our first event was held on the campus of Vanderbilt so it was nice to welcome nearly 400 participants this year. This year we enhanced the event with a health pavilion, caregiver pavilion, meditation station, and creative corner in addition to the 5k. Providing education and resources to the community was possible with support from community partners.”

The event began with a welcome by Sydney Y. K. Brown, followed by Dr. Katherine Y. Brown facilitating a hands-only CPR training for a group of over 100 participants. The free event included a caricature artist, photo station, health screenings (blood pressure checks, BMI testing, height weight), yoga, tai chi, Afro Cardio, dental screenings, DJ Kool Breeze,  line dancing, and more. The participants were greeted by KYB Leadership Academy scholars and parents while being provided with free gift bags from Blue Dog Merch free t-shirts from RBW PH Awareness Group, and free Ralph Lauren Socks.

Among its community partners in attendance included 7229 Medical Support Unit Nashville, TN; Meharry Medical College (School of Dentistry, Saltwagon Clinic, Department of Family and Community Medicine, MS Public Health Students); Goodlettsville Smile Deidra McClain; Hadley Park Line Dancers; Jamila Tyrrell (Tai Chi and Financial Education), National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Sisters Network Nashville, Cherish by Sherita Hill, Jack and Jill Nashville Chapter, and Organ Donation Education provided by Nashville Chapter, The Links, Incorporated to Name a few.

Event sponsors included UnitedHealthcare, Learn CPR America, Vanderbilt Black Student Association, National Hook-Up of Black Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (Alpha Delta Omega Chapter, Kappa Lambda Omega Chapter, Alpha Psi Chapter, Eta Beta Chapter) and Ivy Center Foundation of Nashville Incorporated. All attendees and Caregivers were provided with free gifts. Volunteers included students from Vanderbilt, Tennessee State University, and Fisk University. This year, on the same day, Scholars from KYB Leadership Academy in Illinois also held a RBW PH Awareness Day reaching 100 attendees.

The Roberta Baines-Wheeler (RBW) Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Awareness Sunday at Lee Chapel AME Church was an event where the community honored and celebrated Caregivers. Following worship service (Rev. Harold M. Love Jr., Pastor), scholars from KYB Leadership Academy greeted caregivers as they entered the fellowship hall by providing a long stem rose,  RBW PH Awareness gift bag, and photo. The program began with a welcome by  Sydney Y. K. Brown (KYB Leadership Academy and granddaughter of the late Roberta Baines-Wheeler). The Occasion was presented by Italia Snyder (KYB Leadership Academy) with an Introduction of the Panel by Fannie Carlisle (Lee Chapel Keenagers / AKA- Kappa Lambda Omega).

The panel was moderated by noted community leader Mrs. Delorse A. Lewis and featured as panelists A. Brandon Starks (Executive Funeral Director & Proprietor, Scales Funeral Home), Rev. Lisa Hammond (Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors), and Jeffrey Rutledge (Pre-Needs Sales Counselor, Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors).

“It was a pleasure to participate in such an informative panel discussion on the importance of Advance Planning of Final Needs,” said Starks . “All too often we plan for other grand events in life, such as the birth of our children, education, and weddings, however, we fail to plan for the inevitable final event.  Although no one wants to talk about it, yet these are conversations we must have, and we must plan ahead for our passing from this life.  Remember to Advance Plan your Final Needs to make your wishes known.  It’s the best gift you can give your loved ones.”

The program included honoring Caregivers by Dr. Katherine Y. Brown (RBW PH Awareness Group) who shared her personal experiences as a caregiver, shared pulmonary hypertension education and thanked all of the caregivers present. The  Caregiver Inspiration was presented by  Veronica Clark (NHBW, NC100BW) followed by remarks from  Tawana Williams (AKA- Alpha Delta Omega). The menu was prepared by Chef Irving Brown II (The GoodLife Personal Chef Service) and included assorted pastries, salmon salad, salmon pasta, Alfredo pasta, and other items that attendees enjoyed. Another special treat was free makeovers  by Donna Shaw.

“We are appreciative everyone who made today a success said Sydney Y. K. Brown, who traveled from Agnes Scott College in Georgia to attend. “Although I was in high school, I was one of my grandmother’s caregivers for many years before she transitioned. It’s important to pause to honor those in our community who sacrifice each day to care for others.”

Organized with only volunteers and no paid staff, RBW PH Awareness Group is committed to finding innovative ways to have an impact in the area of service to the community. Some of the activities in the last year have included a RBW PH Group Health Symposium, a KYB Leadership Academy 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament, RBW Her Life Our Legacy Jazz Brunch honoring mothers who have transitioned, sponsoring KYB Leadership Academy, a free 6 week program entitled  “RBW A Caregivers Passport to Health” (weekly chef demonstrations by Chef Irving Brown II, fitness at the Northwest YMCA, and a weekly walking club) and in December they will  hold their RBW Gala at the Nashville City Club (including a Blazer Ceremony for members of its KYB Leadership Academy). Plans are already underway for the 7th Annual RBW PH Awareness Day Event to be held in Tennessee, November 2019.

Event sponsors who supported RBW PH Awareness Sunday included KYB Leadership Academy, Keenagers Senior Ministry, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and National HookUp of Black Women.  For more information contact Dr. Katherine Y. Brown 312-623-2433 or or via email at