Alumna Member Profile
The heart of a healthy lifestyle As Zetas, our members have plenty of practice spreading health messages to women. Cheri Herman Daniels has taken that practice to a new level. For the past eight years, as first lady of Indiana, she has made it her mission to educate Hoosier women how to live a healthy—particularly a heart-healthy—lifestyle. Soon after her husband, Mitch Daniels, took office in 2005, Cheri and the Indiana State Department of Health started the Heart to Heart program to address the widespread prevalence of heart disease, the number one killer among women. Her goal was to increase awareness by educating women on how to lead a heart-healthy life through simple actions such as monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol, eating a balanced diet, and being active.
Cheri Herman Daniels Alpha Xi Indiana University first lady of Indiana
“Women who are typically caregivers and take care of everyone else are the worst about taking care of themselves,” Cheri said. “The thing about heart disease people don’t realize is that there are so many things you can do to improve your chances of not getting it.” Over the years, the program has taken Cheri to college campuses, hospitals and community groups to spread Heart to Heart’s message. Her goal has been to not just inform, but empower women to lead by example and take charge of their health. In addition to the presentations, she created a healthy living cookbook and the Heartland Walk for Health held during the Indiana State Fair. The noncompetitive walk also features speakers and free health screenings to provide participants with individualized benchmarks for success. “I’ve had women come up to me and say, ‘My daughter made me come to this walk two years ago, and I couldn’t even make one quarter of a lap. Now I can do the whole thing,’” she said. Cheri has seen similar success with InShape Indiana, her husband’s statewide health initiative. As a part of that program, Cheri’s online video series “Ready, Set, Walk” has helped Hoosiers—who have typically ranked among the unhealthiest Americans—start their own walking programs. “I think we still have a lot of improving to do, but we’re on the right path,” she said of helping Hoosiers make smarter health choices. Cheri credits a lot of her volunteer spirit to her days helping with service projects and becoming an active member of Alpha Xi Chapter (Indiana University). This January, she is taking that same spirit to another Indiana campus. Once her husband’s term as governor ends, he will become president of Purdue University, and she hopes to continue her work with heart health. “I think it is a very important message,” Cheri said, “and it is a message that could save a lot of lives. So, I really do want to continue to be on the bandwagon for heart health.”
Winter 2013 · 15
Official publication of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity