Shaq continues to support one of his favorite and personal subjects: heart health. O’Neal was recently the honorary chairperson and guest of honor for big annual gathering of The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) in Los Angeles. The even was the 10th Annual Spirit of the Heart Awards Gala, and it gave Shaq another chance to promote his work in the Get Real About Heart Failure campaign.
The program is a partnership with Doctor Elizabeth Ofili, the senior associate dean of clinical research at the prestigious Morehouse School of Medicine. (The program is co-sponsored by Arbor Pharmaceuticals.)
Shaq and Dr. Ofili are using a new website – Shaqgetsreal.com – to talk to both patients and doctors about heart care, with a special emphasis on how that care can be upgraded for the African American community. Shaq told the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper: “I wanted to be the guy that brings awareness to the situation because I know how most adult males, especially African American men, think like me… I just want to urge people to go out there and get checked once a year.”
Dr. Ofili followed up on the issues affecting the African American population when it comes to heart health… noting how some patients are not getting the right medicines – or the wrong doses of medicine – because it may be too expensive for some patients.
The doctor also promoted the resources on Shaqgetsreal.com: “You will find a lot of information not just about understanding heart failure from the perspective of a patient, but also learning how to talk to your physician and advocate. I think that’s the message that we want to put out there is every single one of us should learn about this and advocate.”
ABC (The Association of Black Cardiologists) says it works hard to combat cardiovascular diseases in marginalized communities with various initiatives and projects. The group notes that while there have been advancements in treatments regarding heart issues (and other different diseases), people of color and those with low income are not given access to the latest treatments.
One of ABC’s big goals is not only to train patients, but physicians as well; ABC seeks to show how a patient’s living conditions, methods of travel, and type of insurance are factors that could stifle their access to proper care.
Of course Shaq has a personal connection to heart health. His son Shareef had open-heart surgery last year after being diagnosed with an anomalous coronary artery, a condition that causes an artery to grow in the wrong place. Shaq the younger O’Neal is doing well and is back to playing basketball with UCLA.
As honorary chairman for the night, Shaq took part in honoring pro golf legend Lee Elder, who was given the 2019 Bob Jones Award. As well as being the first African American to make the Ryder Cup Team and to play in the Masters Tournament, he also helped kids, creating and running an afterschool golf program in the Washington D.C. area.