American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Right Back Atcha!

You should have received a mailing from us last week. The mailing contained what candidates call "door hangers." You know what they are….those annoying pieces of paper that you find on your door or lawn or flowerbed when you come home from work during campaign season. Well, my sentiment is: right back atcha! Please take a few minutes to review the cards and be ready to have a conversation with candidates on issues important to you that fight heart disease and stroke. This kind of candidate education is critical to making Maine a healthier place to live work and play. Here are the highlights:

· Tobacco still kills 2,200 Maine residents every year and we need policy makers who will do what they can to help people quit and discourage kids from starting.

· Obesity is the #2 killer and childhood obesity is a true epidemic. Tell policymakers that we all have a role to play in combating obesity.

· Over 1,000,000 kids are trained in hands-only CPR before they graduate from high school. That is because many states mandate the training. Maine does not. We need to educate the next generation of life-savers.

If you did not receive the door hangers in the mail—or you want more—please let me know. Email me at Oh and please let me know by email if you had any conversations and how they went!

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Maine is one big small town....

Scott Nevers is an amazing guy. In the past year, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, was laid off and started a new business venture. He also started volunteering countless hours for the American Heart Association. CPR, AEDs and a little luck saved his life and he is bound to make the best of it. I met Scott after he gave an impromptu talk about his experience at a Southern Maine CEO breakfast last winter. His friend, fellow survivor and mentor, Bob Hatem asked him to come speak. He was nervous but captivating. We caught up again as he followed the CPR bus (pictured) around Portland telling his story to hundreds of people learning Hands-Only CPR in Maine.

I asked Scott to come to the office so that I could get a handle on his story and see if he was interested in helping with any efforts we may undertake to require all high school students to learn Hands Only CPR before they graduate. He was more than willing.

He told me his story, which began when he was a hockey playing kid. When I asked him where he grew up he told me that he grew up in Gorham. I asked if he knew Representative Sanborn (see previous posts). He told me that Rep. Sanborn was his doctor when all of this started! Rep. Sanborn is one of our best allies at the state house and Scott is looking like he will be one of our best advocates. Gorham must be one special little town in the big town of Maine!

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Scott Nevers, Maine

It was the hottest day of the summer—July 27, 2013. Scott had just finished up a few days of golf at Sugarloaf and was playing in a double-header softball game in Saco. Scott looped a single. The next batter hit the ball hard and Scott headed for home. After scoring, he said he did not feel well and went behind the dugout. Then, the 27 year old went down. 9-1-1 was called but since Scott had a pulse and was convulsing, his teammates thought he was having a seizure so no one administered CPR. Luckily for Scott, EMTs arrived in 5 minutes, recognized a sudden cardiac arrest and immediately began CPR and used their AED. They worked on him for 45 minutes in the field—shocked him 19 times and finally got enough of a pulse to get him to the local hospital. The local hospital was able to stabilize him and he was transported to Maine Medical Center where he was put into a coma to protect brain function. After a few failed attempts, they were able to bring him out of a coma after a few days and implant an

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). It took longer for his short term memory to return, but after a few days he could go home. Due to the memory loss and his healing body, Scott, who worked for Hannaford, was out of work for 3 months.

Twelve years earlier, Scott was a typical, athletic high school student. One day, during hockey practice, he had palpitations. He said something to his mom and she took him to his doctor, Dr. Linda Sanborn. The next day he wore a monitor during practice. The palpitations happened again and he was told "no more hockey". After further tests, it was determined that he had ventricular tachycardia. It was recommended that he get an ICD or limit his physical activity. Scott was worried about the ICD going off accidentally (he was told it would feel like a horse kicking him in the chest), so he opted to limit his physical activity. He could still play baseball, but could not do the full work outs. Hockey was not an option. Scott could also continue playing golf—something he continues to this day.

Scott’s ICD has gone off once, and yes it did feel like a horse kicking him in the chest, but it most likely saved his life. Luckily, this time, he listened to a co-worker, friend and fellow survivor and opted for the implant. Through all of his trials, Scott has found a new purpose—sharing his story in order to save lives. Scott has told his story at countless venues around the state for the American Heart Association—and is helping push for legislation that would require all Maine high school students learn CPR. He even went to Las Vegas to speak on behalf of the company who made his AED.

So, if you meet Scott on one of Maine’s many beautiful golf courses, or as he drives around the state for his new beer and wine distributing venture, please say hello and thank him for all he does for the American Heart Association.

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One Million Milestone

Did you hear the big news?  We’ve reached an amazing milestone in our campaign to teach all students to be ‘CPR Smart’!  17 states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, which adds up to over one million annual graduates who are prepared to save a life.  Congratulations to all of the You’re the Cure advocates and community partners who have spoken-up for training our next generation of life-savers.   

But with every advocacy celebration comes a new call to action.  33 states still need to pass legislation to make CPR a graduation requirement and you can help us get there!  Here are a couple simple things you can do right now to get the word out:

1) Watch Miss Teen International Haley Pontius share how a bad day can be turned into a day to remember when students know CPR.  And don’t forget to share this PSA on social media with the hashtag #CPRinSchools!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

2) Do you live in one of the 33 states that have not made CPR a graduation requirement yet?  Take our Be CPR Smart pledge to show your support and join the movement.  We’ll keep you updated on the progress being made in your state. 



We hope you’ll help keep the momentum going as we support many states working to pass this legislation into 2015.  Several states have already had success in securing funding for CPR training in schools, but now need to push for the legislature to pass the graduation requirement and in Illinois, the Governor recently signed legislation that requires schools to offer CPR & AED training to students. 

Bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates when given right away and with 424,000 people suffering out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year, this law is critical to helping save lives.  Thank you for being part of our movement to train the next generation of life-savers!

PS- Inspired to be CPR smart too?  Take 60 seconds to learn how to save a life with Hands-Only CPR.

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Heart Walk Success!

Southern Maine Heart Walk Success!

The You’re the Cure table at the Southern Maine Heart Walk was the busiest I have ever seen. Even the wind could not deter us. By the way, bananas make great paperweights.

Amazing YTC volunteers, Demetra and Richard, collected almost 100 postcards to send to soon-to-be elected legislators about the need for all high school students to be trained in Hands Only CPR and AED use.

As you have heard from me before—it takes less than 30 minutes to teach. High School kids have something in the order of 180,000 teachable minutes in their four years. How about spending a blink of an eye to learn how to save a life? Most (ok, all but 1) of the Heart Walkers we saw agreed. You may remember that almost two years ago the American Heart Association worked hard to pass a bill that would have added Hands Only CPR to the curriculum of each and every high school student in Maine. Well, despite overwhelming support in the legislature, we could not overcome politics and a Governor’s veto. We lost by 2 votes. Well, we don’t give up easily. We will be back after the elections to try again. Won’t you help?

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Linda, Helen and Sheryl - Three Amazing Women

Linda, Helen and Sheryl—three women legislators—American Heart Association advocates.

Everyone stop reading this blog and go to

Read the phenomenal story of two legislators and friends.. Rep. Linda Sanborn knew that her friend, sometimes carpool mate and fellow legislator, Rep. Rankin, was most likely exhibiting signs of a serious heart condition. You see, Rep. Sanborn was a doctor before becoming a legislator….

Read their full story here:

Rep. Sheryl Briggs had attended all the American Heart Association’s Women Legislative Luncheons throughout her career as a legislator. The information she learned at those luncheons caused her to change her lifestyle. She and her husband have lost 100 pounds in the process. Her inspirational story was aired on WMTW8 during their heart health segment:

I am proud to work with these three women in their roles as legislators—they are strong advocates in the State House. However, I am even more proud of how they are using the knowledge they gathered from the American Heart Association—whether the importance of physical activity and nutrition or medical guidelines to help themselves, their friends and their families.

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Mindy's Trip to Augusta - Hanging with the Cool Kids

My Trip to Augusta by Mindy Beyer

About a week ago I had the pleasure of joining Becky Smith our Government Relations Director in Augusta. Before my trip, I really didn't know what to expect. I had been to the state house before. I had also talked to legislators before, but for some reason this trip seemed like it was going to be different—and it was!

I think that some of the reasons that this trip was different was due to the fact that I got to see Becky in her day-to-day role when she is at the state house.

The day started like most everyone's day does—with a cup of coffee. Once we were sufficiently caffeinated, we went up to the state house library to stow our belongings as we did our work. It was in the library that I first felt the sense of excitement, it felt like a high school study hall where the "cool kids" were conversing and planning strategies to advance their cause. Now, please don't get ruffled feathers that I just compared the work of important lobbyists and advocates to high school students but to me I felt a real ownership to the cause, an ownership that had the same determination and innocence I had when was young and didn't have the stresses of everyday adulthood.

Once our belongings were in place, we made our way to the hallway in front of the House Chambers where we waited for my Representative so I could voice my opinion on how she should vote for an American Heart Association priority bill, LD1719, which funds important tobacco and obesity initiatives with tobacco settlement funds.

One thing that I have learned from my time on the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee is that my voice matters. If you take one thing from this blog post please let it be that Your Voice Matters!!

During my day in Augusta, I was able to speak face-to-face with both my Representative and my Senator. After the LD1719 vote I looked at the way the Representatives and Senators who I spoke to voted. My Representative did not vote the way I hope she would (which was not a surprise). However, another Representative who I spoke with (and had some valid reasons in our conversation as to why he might not vote in favor) DID!! My Senator also supported LD1719.

That is really the main reason I had an overall excitement about my trip to Augusta. Who knows—it might have been me talking to that Representative that convinced him vote the way he did.

My voice might have made the difference!

Going back to my high school analogy, like many high schoolers legislators want to please. They want to do what they believe is best for the majority of their voting constituents and they want to be popular. That is why we all need to make our voices heard. That is why you all need to know that although it is hard to understand how people that help run the great state of Maine need our help, they do. They work for us and they need to know what we as Mainers and American Heart Association volunteers want and need.

You don’t need to travel to Augusta like I did, you can use many different outlets: calls, letters, editorials or one of my personal favorites Please don't hesitate to get your voice heard. For more information on the advocacy work of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association please contact Becky Smith.

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A week in the life...

I thought I would take a moment to tell you what a great and busy week I had this week.

Monday: 4 separate meetings in Augusta with legislators on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee to discuss tobacco taxes—then off to Portland to help set up for the Go Red for Women Luncheon. Some legislators were engaged and supportive. Others (who will not be named) were busy checking their phones. Luncheon set up went smoothly—and the pizza was very welcome.

Tuesday: Go Red Luncheon in Portland! I was joined by Advocacy Committee member, Richard Veilleux and Maine Board member Jen Hunt-Maclearn at the Advocacy Table. We spoke to dozens of people about our policy priorities and signed folks up for You’re The Cure. We were so busy that I did not have time to bid on any of the wonderful auction items. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Wednesday: Carpooled with Hilary from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to Augusta to meet with more members of the Appropriations Committee and Senate Leadership (again, about tobacco taxes). As usual, the timing of the meetings shifted and we barely made it back (in the snow) to pick up kiddos at after-school care. C missed gymnastics, but will make it up next week.

Thursday: CoverMENow Coalition call, followed by a strategy call on tobacco taxes. Later that afternoon, I called into the Maine Cardiovascular Health Council Board meeting where we discussed fundraising, our annual conference and I gave an update on legislative activities.

Friday: My supervisor, David Day, made a trip to Maine to discuss progress to date on our priorities and to look ahead to the rest of the year.

I feel very lucky to have such strong support from partners, volunteers and other American Heart Association staff. I could not do all that needs to get done without you! Thanks.

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Opening Day!

Opening Day!

Apparently, only the MLB believes that spring actually started in March this year. Mother Nature does not agree. I was awoken last night by the sounds of plows. Yup. Had to scrape the car again this morning
However, today is opening day. The Sox play any minute now. I firmly believe that spring will come and the Sox will win the World Series again.

I am also ever-hopeful that the legislature will look beyond politics and do the right thing when it comes to providing health coverage to all needy Mainers. All reputable, science-based and economic-based organizations support our position. Allowing hard-working, low-income Mainers to join Medicaid will save the state money, will save taxpayers money and, most importantly, will lead to better health.

So, I am optimistic. Spring will come. The Sox will win the World Series again this year and the Maine legislature will set aside partisan politics and do the right thing. Who is with me?!?

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1800 Calories

1800 calories.

I went online to see how many calories an average woman burns while shoveling snow. It is about 400 an hour. So, I figure that over the past week or so, I burned 1800 calories. This is great for almost all of me. My shoulder, however, disagrees.

The piles at the end of my driveway are so tall that I have to actually bend my knees and hurl the snow backwards over my shoulder or it will just come crashing back on my head. . However, it is nice to be able to exercise outside and the fresh air feels great.

I actually don’t mind shoveling, except when I am racing the clock to get to the state house. Then it is less fun. Next week looks to be a very busy one for the American Heart Association. We have our Hall of Flags Event (more in the next post) and potential committee votes on our efforts to provide medical coverage to 70,000 adults. Also, the Appropriations Committee just announced that they are considering a tax on cigarettes and other types of tobacco products to help close the budget gap.

More than enough to keep me running when I am not shoveling.

The tobacco tax proposal is identical to one the American Heart Association pushed last year--$1.50 a pack on cigarettes and an equal tax on other tobacco products. You will be hearing more from me about how you can help us with that and other efforts. So, please stay tuned (when you are not out shoveling).

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