VALPARAISO — Red-clad women and men filled Harre Union ballroom on the Valparaiso University campus Friday, as more than 250 people gathered for the 10th annual Valpo Goes Red for Women breakfast, sponsored by the American Heart Association.

The Go Red for Women campaign has raised awareness about heart disease, as well more than $300 million for research and education, since its inception, said Brandi Collins, corporate events director for the Heart Association’s Midwest affiliate.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and kills more women each year than all forms of cancer combined, Collins said.

That awareness helped salon owner and Porter County campaign chairwoman Pattie Kobe step in twice to help people suffering from a stroke and a heart attack. Kobe, who owns salons in Crown Point and Valparaiso, started volunteering with the Heart Association after learning about its work through a client.

Shortly after her grandmother died from a stroke, Kobe went on vacation with friends and one of them took ill. She realized while he was in the hospital that he had had a stroke.

“He has made a 98 percent recovery because of the research and events like this one — and he’s a male,” she said.

A few weeks later, on another vacation, a woman had a heart attack. Kobe and a recent medical school graduate kept her comfortable until she flew home and had surgery for a stent implant.

“I realized that’s why I was guided to get involved,” she said. “We truly need to continue to build this movement.”

The path Jennifer Buss, a bank manager from Lowell, took to Go Red was quite different. She had a defective heart valve, her son was born with a pinched aorta, and her father suffered a heart attack. All three required open-heart surgery, which her son received as an infant and Buss received four months before her 30th birthday.

“I had to plan for the worst. What if the surgery didn’t go very well?” Buss said, adding she and her husband had to get their wills and arrangements for their two sons in order. “That is the part you don’t expect to do when you’re 29 years old.”

Noting that in the span of six years, she experienced cardiovascular trauma from three distinct viewpoints, Buss encouraged women to listen to their bodies, find doctors willing to listen to them and to be an advocate for their own health.