Monday, February 13, 2006—Some of today’s most well-known African American celebrities took to the golf links on February 7 to fight the growing stroke epidemic among African Americans. More than twenty black actors, comedians, and fashion entrepreneurs played in the “Swing Against Stroke” golf tournament, which is the first in a series of celebrity fund raising events sponsored by PacifiCare’s African American Health Solutions. The event is in support of the American Stroke Association’s Power to End Stroke campaign, a movement that aims to raise stroke awareness specifically in the African American community.

Among those participating in the golf tournament were event host Chef G. Garvin, host of Turn Up the Heat with Chef G. Garvin on TV One; actors Boris Kodjoe, Joe Torry, and Glenn Plummer; comedians Chris Spencer and Buddy Lewis; TV personality Omarosa; and many others.

Nationally, cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are the leading cause of death for African Americans, and blacks have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke that whites do. Moreover, stroke age-adjusted death rates are higher in blacks than in whites. For example, in 2002, death rates per 100,000 for black males were 81.7 vs. 54.2 for white males, and death rates per 100,000 for black females were 71.8 vs. 53.4 for white females.

“Anyone, at any time, can have a stroke, but if you’re African American, your chances are much higher,” Chef Garvin said. “That’s why we have to educate our people about the risks they face, and it’s why I’m participating in this golf tournament, and the American Stroke Association’s Power to End Stroke campaign.”

After the tournament, the participants viewed an informational presentation by Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, a neurologist at UCLA Westwood Medical Center and an expert on stroke.

“When you look at the African American community, you see a greater disposition to virtually all the risk factors for stroke,” Dr. Ovbiagele said. “This is exacerbated by the fact that there’s such a shortage of good, accurate information out there, especially in the black community, on stroke. That’s leading to a stroke epidemic in the black community, and it’s critical that we act now to stop it.”

Racquel Johnson, a 30-year-old stroke survivor, delivered a moving plea for those in attendance to educate themselves, and to use their celebrity and influence to become involved in the cause.

“There are so many people out there who think, just like I used to, that a stroke could never happen to them,” Johnson said. “Just as I was, they are wrong. We need to reach them and let them know not only that it can happen to them, but that there are things they can do to reduce the chances. It’s so important that those of you who have the ability and the means to support this campaign do so in any way you can.”

PacifiCare’s African American Health Solutions proudly sponsored the Swing Against Stroke Golf Tournament, and Brand 7 Marketing in Los Angeles co-organized the event with the American Stroke Association, which is a division of the American Heart Association.

“PacifiCare is dedicated to closing the gap on disparities and improving the health outcomes of Africans Americans,” said Corliss Hill, Director of PacifiCare’s African American Health Solutions. “We understand the importance of educating African Americans about their risk of stroke, and have committed ourselves to supporting future stroke awareness events that help people build healthier lives.”

To learn more about stroke and the Power to End Stroke campaign, visit For more information about PacifiCare’s African American Health Solutions program, visit