PORTSMOUTH, Va. – A longtime health advocate is in the running to win a big honor from the local American Heart Association branch.
Avanti Allen-Benson, a manager in the Portsmouth Health Department, is one of eight women representing the seven cites of Hampton Roads in the Women of Impact competition. The competition is an effort by the local association to highlight health advocates from each of the seven cities in Hampton Roads who are raising awareness about stroke and heart disease.
Allen-Benson has spent much of her career spreading heart health and stroke awareness in her community. She’s also been passionate about decreased cancer and diabetes rates in Portsmouth, too. She told News 3 it is her goal to make Portsmouth one of the healthiest cities in the country.
However, like many people during the pandemic, Allen-Benson found herself seeking emotional comfort in food. She said her last physical was a wakeup call to kick her own health journey into overdrive.
“I always boasted that I'm the beautiful Black overweight woman with good numbers,” said Allen-Benson. “My last lab results were a wake-up call.”
She continued, “Diabetes runs in my family. High blood pressure runs in my family. Obesity is a risk factor for all of the chronic diseases. So I had to make a change.”
Allen-Benson said she is more determined than ever to lead by example. You can learn more about her journey and join her team here.