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Kingston Murriel Jackson, Mississippi

On July 3, 2012, 5 weeks before my due date, I had an appointment for my 8-month checkup.  During the ultrasound the physician could not get a good view of the left ventricle of my son’s heart.  He thought it was due to the way he was laying, but wanted to have a pediatric cardiologist look to be sure.  Soon after, I visited the cardiologist and was told that my son had hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  I immediately tried to convince myself this was something minor and would be easily corrected.  Unfortunately the physician told me that Kingston would have to have heart surgery after delivery, a second heart surgery, 5 to 6 months later, and a third surgery a few years later.  I thought this was a death sentence.  I couldn’t imagine a baby going through something like this. 

The following week, we met with the fetal medicine team, the pediatric cardiology surgeon, and staff to prepare us for delivery.  My family and I spent a day with support nurses and asking questions of the physicians.  We received information on the advances in heart surgery, congenital heart defects, heart health and the success rate of infants that have the three heart surgeries.  On August 6th, Kingston was born and had a successful Norwood procedure for his first heart surgery.  Five months later Kingston’s Glenn surgery was successful as well.  We have been very fortunate to not have any complications and have a healthy, active baby today. 
 
The most interesting part of my family’s story is that we’ve always supported the American Heart Association through donations, walks and at their events for children.  Every year I participated in the American Heart Association’s Go Healthy Challenge, but I never thought the efforts, education and research of this organization would affect us personally until Kingston was born.  Often people think the AHA’s mission is adult specific and focuses just on the prevention of heart attack and stroke.  My work with the organization and having Kingston is a testament of how heart health starts at birth and how important it is to practice prevention every day, for all ages.  Kingston has made our family realize that often people take their heart for granted until their faced with a health scare or heart disease.  Maintaining Kingston’s health has encouraged each of us to eat better and live more active lifestyles so that we can be here to watch him grow up.  Although I was already an advocate for AHA, I am now an even stronger supporter and educator of their mission to prevent heart disease.

– Elizabeth Foster (Kingston’s Mom)

Dr. Ray Castle has volunteered for the American Heart Association for many years.  He has been active with the Heart Walk and within the Advocacy Department.  In 2012, he joined the Louisiana Advocacy Committee.

As a member of the Advocacy Committee, he has worked tirelessly to help the American Heart Association pass policies surrounding AED liability, joint use agreements and ensuring that all schools have AEDs on campus.  He has testified before legislative committees as a subject matter expert and a strong voice for the organization.  He currently is the Athletic Training Program Director and Associate Professor of Professional Practice in the School of Kinesiology in the College of Human Sciences and Education at LSU.  He is also a Certified Athletic Trainer and CPR Instructor.

Dr. Castle has an extensive background in education, clinical practice and professional service. His clinical practice background includes experiences at the clinic, high school, college and international levels.  In 2013, he was recognized by the Louisiana Legislature for providing volunteer emergency medical assistance to the victims of the recent Boston Marathon bombing.  Most recently, in September 2014, he was invited to join the LSU Stephenson Disaster Management Institute as one of their Senior Fellows.

 

Dr. Joshua Wynne North Dakota

Joshua Wynne, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H. has been an advocate for cardiovascular health and wellness for decades. But in addition to helping thousands of patients with heart problems over many years in his role as a clinician, he also practices what he preaches!

As Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of North Dakota and Dean of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, he has sponsored “Joggin’ with Josh”, an annual walk, jog, or run involving the UND and Grand Forks community. He has served as the 2010 Heart Walk Chair in Grand Forks, N.D. And he has ensured that the new medical school building that will be completed in 2016 is designed to encourage walking.

A New York native, Dr. Wynne’s medical education was in Boston. He has functioned as an academic cardiologist throughout his career, first at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, then at Wayne State University, and most recently at UND. He is a longtime American Heart Association volunteer with leadership roles in Michigan, North Dakota, and the Midwest Affiliate, where he was a long-standing board member.

As a member of the Health North Dakota Strategic Visioning Committee, Dr. Wynne helped identify improved hypertension identification and treatment as an important public health initiative to reduce the rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke in North Dakota, since optimal blood pressure control remains elusive for many patients.

Heart disease treatment is a personal matter for Dr. Wynne; he is married to fellow cardiologist Dr. Susan Farkas, who is director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at Sanford Heath in Fargo and Governor of the American College of Cardiology for North Dakota. 

One of our youngest advocates is making one of the biggest impacts to a community by helping to pass a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance!  Brett Harris is a middle-school student in Lubbock whose passion for a smoke-free community goes back as far as he can remember. 

His dad, Matthew Harris, who is the Chairman of the West Texas Smoke-Free Coalition and a part of AHA’s Statewide Smoke-Free Leadership Council, has always encouraged him to stand up for what he believes in. 

At just 12 years old, Brett's been able to effectively lobby City Councilmembers, recruit volunteers, and educate the public on the positive impact a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance would have in Lubbock.

On September 20th he even secured over 30 petitions cards during the Lubbock Heart Walk, which was one of the biggest hauls a single person had collected that day!  During the Heart Walk, he also helped people create their Vine videos to post to social media about why they support a smoke-free Lubbock.

He has also educated his community through teaching his Boy Scout troop the dangers of secondhand smoke, attending community events with his dad, and even recording his own call to action for the Lubbock City Council on Vine.

The Harris family is also interested in other heart healthy activities.  For instance, on the weekends Brett can be seen hiking with his Boy Scout troop, working out, and gardening with his dad.  The two have a passion for growing fresh vegetables to give to the community.  We caught up with Brett and got to know a little more about this Youth Advocate.


Getting to Know: Brett Harris

1.       What's the most exciting part about advocating for Smoke-Free Lubbock?

Meeting some of the survivors as part of the Heart Walk.  I’m hoping they can come and speak to the city council. 

2.       What was it like for you to get people to sign SF petition cards?

It was pretty fun.  Some people turned me down, but most people went for it. It was really cool and fun doing it.

3.       What are your hobbies?

I really like riddles, but what I like the most is going camping with my Boy Scout troop and playing with Legos.  Playing with Legos is useful everywhere.  Legos expand your mind with imagination.

4.       What do you want to be when you grow up?

I plan to go and work at Lego.  It would be pretty cool to work there.  It would not be just for the pay.  I’d do it for $1 just to play with all the Legos they have. I would like to test out the instructions and see how it goes, and also make models with random pieces.

 

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