Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei hosted the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection 2018 fashion show in New York Thursday night.

"Go Red for Women was created by women for women to address a startling reality of gaps in awareness, treatment and prevention of heart disease," Tomei told the crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom. "Far too many women were being taken from us. So, a movement for women's health equality was born. As we sit here tonight, the national conversation continues to build momentum. It is calling upon women to demand change for the things that are most important in life."

Hitting the runway Thursday in an effort to spotlight the initiative were Tatyana Ali, Zuri Hall, Melissa Joan Hart, Grace Helbig, Liz Hernandez, Adrienne Bailon Houghton, Kathy Ireland, Maye Musk, Elizabeth Rohm, Marion Ross, Lea Salonga, Rachel Lindsay, Niki Taylor, Kate Walsh, Lynn Whitfield, CeCe Winans and Ginger Zee.

Salonga opened the show with a cover of OneRepublic's "I Lived" and En Vogue later sang several of the trio's hits, concluding with the anthem "Free Your Mind." In the event's final moments, all of the celebrities took one last turn on the catwalk together before posing for a group photo.

Speaking to UPI before she went on stage, YouTube star Helbig said she had seen videos of past editions of the fashion show and was honored to be invited to participate in this year's event.

"It's amazing. It's incredible. Being a woman right now, I think, is awesome and really inspiring," she said. "For them to even offer it to me, I was like: 'Am I getting pranked? Am I allowed to be there?' Because I would want to come just to watch in the audience. So, to be part of a great cause with a bunch of great women was like, 'Yes, sign me up!'"

Greenleaf icon Whitfield said in a separate, backstage interview that her beloved grandmother's death from a heart attack at the age of 55 is a constant reminder for her to take care of herself, primarily by eating well, and to pass that message on to others.

"It's so important that we take responsibility for the quality of our lives, which a huge, important part of that is how healthy we are, how good we feel, what the outcomes are for our longevity," she said. "Just the quality of our living here on Earth. Our body is the vessel that carries our purpose. If we're not healthy, if we don't have our health, it's very difficult to realize that which we are destined to do."

By Karen Butler, UPI.com

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