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Former Resident Sails 'Red Dress' for Healthy Hearts

Jan. 3, 2005 –– Remember Moe Roddy? This former St. John and St. Thomas resident is making a name for herself on two fronts. She's gearing up for a sailboat race from her home in Newport, R.I., to Bermuda, and she's working to get the word out about how heart disease is the number one killer of women.
Roddy, now 50, sailed north from St. Thomas on Joe Colpitt's trimaran Virgin Fire in 2001, after 23 years in St. John and St. Thomas. When the boat docked in Newport, she decided to stay. She landed a job in the open-heart surgery unit at Miriam Hospital in Providence and set her sights on the Newport to Bermuda race.
In this race, Roddy will single hand a 35-foot J-boat the 635 miles to Bermuda, but will sail back with Newport businesswoman Carrie Fletcher at her side. It's called the 2005 Bermuda 1-2 for this reason.
"We'll be the first women to do it both ways," she said.
She leaves June 3 for what she expects will be a five-day trip.
In what is surely another one of those small-world stories, some of the photos on Roddy's website were taken by former St. Thomas resident Elaine Lembo, now the editor of the Newport-based "Cruising World" magazine
The boat is called the Red Dress to raise awareness about the impact of heart disease on women. The Red Dress is the symbol used to bring attention to women's heart disease. Roddy said the disease kills 500,000 women a year compared to the 40,000 a year that die from breast cancer.
"A lot of it is lifestyle and it's preventable," she said.
Roddy needs to raise money for this endeavor, so if you'd care to contribute, visit her website at "www.reddressracing.com").
She has lined up sponsors, including the Swarovski crystal company, the Harken sailing equipment company, North Sails and the Newport Shipyard.
Her path to this point in her life took many twists and turns. A military brat who went to high school in Japan, she moved to St. John from California in 1978 to work at what is now called the V.I. Environmental Resource Station. Marriage, the adoption of a daughter, Malia, now 19 and a student at Hawaii Pacific University, and years spent as St. John's public health nurse filled the next couple of decades. When her marriage ended, she went to work at Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas as an operating room nurse.
She said part of the point of her sail to Bermuda is to reinforce the point that women can be independent and not look to men to take them where they want to go.
"I decided I wanted to sail the boat by myself," she said.
She had sailed a lot while living on St. John, but said she really tuned up her skills on Virgin Fire.
And since her employment in the cardiac unit, she's learned a lot about heart disease. She said that there's a lot of gender bias when it comes to medical care, with doctors often pinning the problem on emotions or other factors rather than heart disease.
She said that in addition to the usual symptoms –– crushing chest pain, shortness of breath and radiating pain in the left arm –– women often experience an uneasy feeling in their chest, jaw pain, back pain, and the radiating pain in both arms.
"We can have very different symptoms than men," she said.
For more on heart disease,visit "www.americanheart.org").
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