By LISA MONTI
The 11th annual Spirit of Women Spring Event sponsored by Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg will take place March 31 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center at 11:30 a.m.
Preparations for the well-attended luncheon awards program began almost immediately after last year’s event ended.
“Typically we get Lake Terrace to hold two dates and then we decide on a speaker. Then we work with the speaker’s schedule on when they can come and go from there to get bids on the floral decor and plan the lunch,” said Kathy Emmons, Spirit of Women coordinator.
About 800 women — and men — will attend this year’s Spring Event which has the theme In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving. The guest speaker will be Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose family’s story was told in the best-selling book turned movie, The Blind Side. Tuohy, a popular inspirational speaker, has a new book, Turn Around, which will be available for purchase and signing.
“We are delighted to have such a dynamic and inspirational presenter at this year’s Spring Event. Knowledge is the greatest tool we have to empower people to take control of their health, and the Spirit of Women program does that in a way that is entertaining and fun,” said Millie Swan, chief marketing and medical staff services officer at Forrest General.
Tuohy is the latest of the event’s outstanding speakers, most notably First Ladies Laura Bush and Barbara Bush, who brought with them the Secret Service and a host of security logistics. Emmons said this year’s speaker had just one special request: “Make sure she has a Diet Coke with lunch.”
Recipients of the 11th Annual Spirit in Action Awards will be announced at the Spring Event. The awards honor Pine Belt residents for their work in making their community a healthier, safer and more inspirational place to live. “It’s a surprise, so it’s always a challenge getting the winners there,” Emmons said
The Spring Event is the largest in a full calendar of Spirit of Women activities and the only one that doesn’t have a presentation by a doctor. “It’s the biggest event of the year and the message is always wonderful,” said Emmons.
Spirit of Women is a national network for women of all ages to help nurture their well-being and enrich their lifestyle. Forrest General is the only Spirit of Women hospital in South Mississippi and one of just two in the state. The Tupelo hospital also has a program.
“When you are flying on an airplane and they say, ‘in case of loss of oxygen, put the oxygen mask on yourself first.’ That’s the premise of Spirit of Women. We have to take good care of ourselves because we take care of our families. If we’re not healthy, how can we help others,” Emmons said.
A $20 lifetime membership includes discounts at Spirit of Women programs and more than 100 local businesses.
Health education events and health screenings called “health-u-tainment” combine topics such as gardening and home decorating with health information provided by Forrest General experts.
Forrest General’s Spirit of Women has 8,500 members. “We start them at age 4 and carry them for the rest of their life,” said Emmons.
The Sweeteas Club for young girls in grades Pre-K through 6th grade organizes special events throughout the year, including expert advice from physicians and other healthcare professionals.
Young women in grades 7 through 12 participate in the Spirit Girls programs which offer events that promote self esteem and encourage healthy lifestyles. Activities include community service projects.
Emmons said the deadline for purchasing Spring Event tickets is nearing. Tickets are $45 for Spirit of Women members and $55 for non-members.
For more information, visit forrestgeneral.com/springevent or call Spirit of Women at 601-288-4968.