Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO — While most people will experience personal tragedy during their lifetime, Go Red Women guest speaker, Donna Hartley, survivor, speaker and author, has had more than her share of tragedy, three major ones to be exact. 

On March 1, 1978, Donna, a survivor of a fiery DC-10 plane crash that changed her life in seconds, eventually her testify led to changes in airline safety regulations. On March 1, 2002, Hartley was diagnosed with Stage III Melanoma. The third dramatic event in her life was on March 1, 2006 when Hartley triumphed over open heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve. 

Hartley, an advocate for women and heart disease, spoke to attendees at Wednesday afternoon’s 12th annual GRW luncheon, sponsored by Shannon Medical Center which was held at the McNease Convention Center. 

Donna shared her personal testimony of three major negatives that she changed into positives in becoming a survivor.

In addressing those three negatives: plane crash, cancer, and heart surgery, Hartley, a single mother with a cat named, Sheba, incorporated humor in her presentation. “I have a healthy relationship, even if it’s with a cat.” 

Donna asked her mentor, angel-on-earth and friend, George, “Why did I survive this plane crash?” His response, “There are no accidents.” “Everything happens for a reason.” One you understand your learning lessons, then you can move to the next level.”

Hartley’s own advice was not to look at life’s lessons as either good or bad, but what does a person need to learn from this experience.

Donna concluded her presentation by listing seven heartfelt tips that she personally lives by.

1. Have a positive attitude on a daily basis. 

2. Be happy.

3. Exercise.

4. Eat healthy

5. Meditate 

6. Surround yourself with doctors and providers

7. Incorporate a sense of humor.

The American Heart Association, also a yearly participant in the Go Red For Women event, campaigns nationwide to educate women about their health with the intent to reduce their risks of heart disease and stroke.