*Emmy and Grammy winner Queen Latifah has joined forces with the American Heart Association for its “Red Steps Challenge.” The Queen told ABC News the effort is personal, as her mother, Rita Owens, suffers from heart failure and a condition called scleroderma, an incurable autoimmune disease that has caused scar tissue build up in her lungs. She revealed that her mother’s approval of the campaign was imperative to her getting involved.
“It’s just a way for us to show support for all of those people who are dealing with the condition and those who care for them,” Latifah said. Her 66-year-old mother also has pulmonary hypertension, which impacts her ability to breathe.
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The campaign encourages people to help raise awareness about the risks and symptoms of heart failure by posting photos of themselves taking steps while wearing red socks. The goal? Six million “red steps,” in recognition of the nearly six million Americans living with heart failure
“This is something that I should’ve been involved in regardless of my mother, but because it’s something that affects my mom, I really wanted her to be involved and I wanted her permission,” Latifah confided. “She’s just so eloquent and positive in the way she puts things, it’s something that we as a family like to share with other people because realize that by her talking about some of her medical issues, a lot of people are reaching out and saying ‘Me too.’”
Latifah also notes how this campaign has helped her personally too.
“I am not perfect when it comes to just staying fit constantly all the time,” she shared, adding that the campaign reminds her to be diligent and that she doesn’t have to do it alone. Most of all, it’s about helping others,” she said. “Sometimes I can rally that support and I can do right in my own group of family and friends.”