Ford promotes National Wear Red Day on Feb. 6

Cheryl Ford: Natural Born Griller


If Cheryl Ford hosts any barbeques for her Detroit Shock teammates this summer, she’ll have her choice of aprons to wear behind the grill.

Shortly after receiving a black “Guest Griller” apron at the bd’s Mongolian Barbeque location in Roseville on Tuesday evening, the Shock team captain stepped into the dining area wearing a red American Heart Association apron over it.

“I’m not a guest griller, I’m not grilling yet,” she explained. “I’m here for a cause, so let’s be about the cause.”

That cause is “National Wear Red Day,” on Fri., Feb. 6, an AHA initiative to raise awareness of the deadly toll heart disease has had on women and the choices women can make for a healthier heart.

The AHA teamed up with bd’s Mongolian Barbeque to promote National Wear Red Day and encourage donations by hosting celebrity grillers. Ford joined Fox 2 sportscaster Jennifer Hammond, Mix 92.3 FM personality Tracey McCaskill and reigning IBA middleweight world champion Mary Jo Sanders at the location near 12 Mile Road and Gratiot from 6 to 8 p.m. to educate diners and wield swords on the restaurant’s signature attraction, the grill.

The statistics Ford shared with bd’s guests Tuesday were sobering: One in three women dies from cardiovascular disease, making it the leading cause of death among women of all ethnicities. Heart disease takes another women’s life every minute.

The message was serious, but the rest of the night was all fun, especially for the unsuspecting Ford fans at the restaurant, like Bobby Bailey, a retired military man in town from Oklahoma. “He was so excited he said he’d donate just because he likes me,” Ford said, reaching into a box of Shock giveaways. “He gets a T-shirt and a poster.”

Bailey, out to dinner with his fiancée, chatted with Ford about playing like her father, NBA great Karl Malone, and winning championships with the Shock. “They’re not going to trade you, are they?” he asked while Ford signed his poster. Ford assured him they were not.

“The thing that impressed me is, with her being a sports celebrity and the money she’s making, she’s around the commoners promoting health for people and she don’t have to do that,” Bailey said.

“She could be off in the Bahamas or somewhere chilling and doing her own thing. She shows that she doesn’t forget where she comes from. That’s a good role model right there.”

After speaking with diners, Ford made her debut behind the grill. Round, seven feet long and a sizzling 600 degrees, it’s a daunting place for rookies. The master grillers gave the celebrities a brief tutorial on the basics while continuing their showmanship for the hungry audience. Meals became props as the grillers balanced egg yolks on three-foot long swords, flipping everything from broccoli to the swords themselves.

“It’s fun but it’s hard,” said Ford, who didn’t attempt any sword flips during her two 25-minute stints. “My hands hurt.”

Preparing delicious, heart-friendly stir-fry combinations at peak dining time shifted Ford’s appetite into overdrive. “I’m starving,” Ford said, who enjoyed her first-ever bowl at bd’s Mongolian Barbeque. The popular create-your-own stir-fry chain has 13 of its 34 nationwide locations in Michigan. All bd’s guests wearing red this Friday will get $2 off their meal, which will be donated to the American Heart Association.

For more information about the AHA and the choices you can make to minimize your susceptibility to heart disease, visit GoRedForWomen.org.