"America's sweetheart" is now a symbol of hope for the hearts of women in South Carolina.
Greatly admired Olympic figure skater and TV personality Peggy Fleming has become an Ambassador in Providence Heart Institute's Red Dress Campaign.
Peggy appears in television spots and magazine ads, encouraging other women to become Red Dress Ambassadors and to spread the word that heart disease is the state's number one killer of women.
Her heart is very much in the messages, since she lost a sister to heart disease and has another sister who had bypass surgery. "As a breast cancer survivor, I thought breast cancer was the greatest threat to a woman's health," she says in the TV spot. "But heart disease kills more women each year than all forms of cancer combined. "That's why I'm honored to be a part of the Providence Heart Institute Red Dress Campaign, and I urge you to get involved."
America – and indeed the world – first fell in love with Peggy Fleming at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. Seven years after the entire U.S. figure skating team was killed in a plane crash, the 18-year-old athlete won the gold medal by 88.2 points over her closest competitor. That was the only gold medal the United States brought home from Grenoble.
While charming a worldwide television audience with her grace and style, she put American figure skating on her shoulders and brought it back to life. Even today, she remains figure skating's enduring symbol and most identifiable personality.
ABC televised the 1968 Winter Games live and in color for the first time ever, and the enduring image from that coverage will always be of a young woman in a chartreuse dress fulfilling her dream. That was the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship with television.
Six months after the Olympics, she starred in the first of five TV specials, two of which were honored with Emmy Awards. Her 20 years as an on-air analyst for ABC Sports have taken her to national and global competitions, and she continues to provide warm, knowledgeable commentary.