American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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We are Looking for Go Red Spokespeople!

Are you a woman who is a heart disease or stroke survivor? Has heart or stroke touched your life personally? Has a loved one had a heart attack or stroke? Have you made a lifestyle change to help prevent heart disease or stroke? We are looking for you to share your story! Help us spread the message!

Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women. By speaking up, we can save more lives! Raising your voice and sharing how you or a loved one have overcome heart disease or stroke is one of the strongest actions you can take against our leading health threats. The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® movement is looking for women to share their stories of survivorship, lifestyle changes, caregiving or another personal connection to heart disease and stroke to help empower others to put their health first.  Women who share their stories will have the chance to become a local spokesperson for the cause – representing Go Red For Women® in the community. If you’re interested in sharing your story with us, please contact

We would love for you to take the time to share your story today!

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Heart of Gold

I am excited to be able to celebrate some amazing advocates from Central MA as Heart of Gold Winners at the Heart of the Commonwealth Event.

The Heart of Gold Award is presented each year to members of the Central Massachusetts’ community who have enhanced the quality of life in the region and who have played a significant role in advancing the mission of the American Heart Association

John and Luann Ellsessar, Sutton; Ben and Dawn Symes, Millville and Gracie Soultanian, Shirley-Heart of Gold for advocating to ensure that our schools and communities are equipped with AEDs and that our students are trained with the lifesaving skill of CPR in memory of Michael Ellsessar, in honor in Tyler Symes and in recognition of 13 year old Gracie’s inspirational efforts.

Rachel Henry, Worcester-Heart of Gold for advocating to ensure that all stroke patients receive quick, high quality care like she did; and that all residents of the Commonwealth know the signs and symptoms of stroke so they can have the opportunity to not only survive but thrive following a stroke like she has.

 Patricia Degon, Worcester-Heart of Gold for advocating to ensure that our children will get quality daily physical education in schools to create the foundation of lifelong physical fitness.

The Heart of the Commonwealth Celebration & Wine Tasting, which will attract more than 250 of Central Massachusetts’ most prominent business and healthcare professionals, is the annual social event benefiting the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association in its mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. We can be proud that over $31 million of American Heart Association funded lifesaving research takes place right here in Massachusetts. The evening will include a cocktail reception followed by wine and microbrew tasting, silent auction and live music performed by Rusty Scott Jazz Trio. For more information and to purchase event tickets, please visit

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Does Your Child have PE in Schools?

As we start another school year and our students head back to start learning critical skills, I wonder what about their health? Are they getting the opportunity to be physical active in school? Are they learning the life-long habit of the importance of being active? With your help we can start to make sure that kids are getting the opportunity to have physical education in school. We think that schools are a perfect place in which to promote positive healthy behaviors because students spend large amounts of time in the school environment. Although we know schools are under increasing pressure to increase student scores on standardized tests, the recent dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents suggests that there is a need for our schools to find ways to promote healthy behaviors. Will you join with us and help us ensure that our kids are exposed to quality PE? Physical Education is Critical to a Complete Education for our Kids!

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Mark Your Calendar for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge!

We’re gearing up for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want you to be in on all of the action!  Throughout September, we’re encouraging families across the country to take control of their healthy by participating in the EmpowerMEnt Challenge.  Each week, families and kids will pursue a different goal, including eating more fruits and veggies, limiting sugary drinks, reducing sodium intake, and increasing physical activity.  Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family.  And by the end of the month, families will be a step ahead on the road to a heart-healthy life. 

So mark your calendar for the challenge kick-off on September 1st!  Complimentary templates and activities, broken down into the themed weeks, are now available on  In addition, you're invited to join our EmpowerMEnt Challenge Facebook group, where you can make the commitment to take the challenge and share your progress with others.  

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Susan Canning, Massachusetts

Sue Canning became an advocate because of her son Kevin. Kevin was born on April 8, 1992.Kevin was loved by everyone because he didn’t take life too seriously and was always trying to make people laugh. Kevin started playing sports very young, including hockey competitively from the age of 3 on as well as baseball, lacrosse, golf and was a member of the Springfield Rifle Rugby Team. As many of Kevin’s teammates would tell you, his motto was “No Excuses, Play like a Champion”. Off the ice or field, Kevin would live by another motto: “Live Every Day, Laugh Every Moment, and Love beyond Words.”

Kevin had a big heart, unfortunately on July 11, 2011, this physical “big heart” took Kevin’s life. After Kevin died his family found out he had a “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)." He had experienced no symptoms and the family never knew he had this condition.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 5,000 young people between 15 and 34 years of age die annually from “Sudden Cardiac Arrest." The leading cause of death is HCM, an abnormally enlarged heart muscle. Because of what happened to Kevin, Sue started KEVS Foundation to sponsor cardiac screenings for young people in our community and to bring awareness and education around CPR and AED information.

Sue’s goal has always been to help raise awareness of “Sudden Cardiac Arrest” through education, cardiovascular screenings for young persons and to provide state of the art Automatic Emergency Defibrillators (AED) and CPR in the community. Sue has become a tireless advocate around requiring coaches and students to know CPR. She has made phone calls, visits to her lawmakers, reached out to the press and has activated all her friends and family to do the same. She knows that Kevin could have suffered sudden cardiac arrest on a field or in a rink and she would have felt safer knowing that the coach was equipped with the knowledge of CPR. She also thinks about if Kevin’s friends had known CPR would they have been able to save them in that situation? She has become a strong voice around the issue of CPR and AEDs and I look forward to the day we can honor Kevin by passing these critical pieces of legislation.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Thank YOU! Because of all your hard work we have been able to able to make sure that all babies born are screened for congenital heart defects, we made sure to make sure that kids don’t start smoking and adults quit by increasing the tobacco tax, we made sure that our cities and towns are thinking about walking biking when they construct new roads or fix existing roads by including important language on complete streets in the Transportation Bond Bill and we made sure that our communities have access to fresh fruits and vegetables by including fresh food financing in the Environment Bond Bill. All of these efforts will help make our Commonwealth more heart-healthy and stroke-free! 

Even with all this great work, we still have so much more to do. As the legislators start to wind down we want to make sure they still take action on a few critical bills this fall. Please continue to act on all alerts to ask your legislators for support on key pieces of legislation that would require all coaches to learn CPR, improving the access to quality, age-appropriate physical education for all students and requiring healthy options in vending machines in State Buildings. 

I know that I ask a lot from you, but it truly makes a difference and I can’t thank you enough for your dedication and passion for the cause. Thank YOU for all YOU do.


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2 Days Left and So Much to Do!

With only two days left before the legislators break for the summer we need a last push to get some critical legislations to help our kids passed. The House still needs to take action on legislation that would require all coaches to know CPR, restricting the sale and use of E-Cigarettes, and requiring healthy vending in State Buildings and the Senate has a chance to pass legislation that would provide quality physical education in our schools. We also have a chance to get some language in around setting up a stroke system of care and we are waiting for final approval on fresh food financing.

Your legislators are hearing from all advocates in these last few days, it is crucial that your voices is being heard too so if you have not already taken action please do so today! Send an email or call your legislators today and let them know that these issues are important to you! I  appreciate your help and your continued advocacy we only have a few days to pass some important legislative priorities, and I hope to be passing along some good news on Friday!



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Rachel Henry, Massachusetts

Eleven years ago, at the age of 30, Rachel suffered a hemorrhagic stroke in her doctor's office during a routine checkup. Thankfully, her doctor knew what was happening and Rachel was able to receive immediate lifesaving care. It was a long road, but she always says that stroke changed her physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  For years, Rachel asked, "Why me?  Why did I have a stroke?"  Now, it is "Why not me?  What can I do now?  Who can I help?” She had her stroke and was saved and since then has been working to prevent strokes, treat survivors and ensure a healthier future. Rachel says “I am here to help the AHA/ASA accomplish their mission.  It is my mission too.  I speak for stroke survivors who can't.  I talk to people who don't understand.”

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Aphasia Advocates Back Improved Stroke Care Bills

We know that stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. A stroke can have various communication effects, one of which is aphasia. Stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, which is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate. Aphasia does not affect intelligence. Stroke survivors remain mentally alert, even though their speech may be jumbled, fragmented or impossible to understand. People with aphasia are often frustrated and confused because they can’t speak as well or understand things the way they did before their stroke. They may act differently because of changes in their brain. Imagine looking at the headlines of the morning newspaper and not being able to recognize the words. Or think about trying to say "put the car in the garage" and it comes out "put the train in the house" or "widdle tee car ung sender plissen." Thousands of alert, intelligent men and women are suddenly plunged into a world of jumbled communication because of aphasia. Our legislators have the opportunity to help people currently living with aphasia and try to ensure that when someone suffers a stroke they are treated quickly so they have a chance to reverse disabilities like aphasia associated with stroke.

I was honored to be a part of the Aphasia Day at the State House on June 26th. We, at the American Stroke Association, joined with the hundreds of you living with aphasia and caregivers. We joined with them to advocate for two bills that can help improve stroke care and provide resources to survivors living with aphasia. We took the opportunity to thank the State Repreentatives for passing House Bill #4162 which establishes a special commission to investigate and study the programs and resources necessary to meet the unmet needs of persons with aphasia and their families and asked the Senate to act quickly on this legialatino to ensure that we are dedicating time to determine what resources are needed for people who are living with aphasia.

In addition, we asked legislators to help to move critical legislation that establishes a Stroke System of Care in the Commonwealth. With improved systems of care in Massachusetts, we can save the lives of many residents who suffer a stroke. We urge legislators to pass Senate Bill #2075 that will designate the best medical centers to treat stroke and ensure that care is delivered as promptly as possible. Each year, thousands of lives are lost to stroke largely due to a lack of coordination between emergency services, health professionals and treatment facilities. We can address the problem by passing this legislation that would close gaps in the continuum of care from prevention to recovery. Coordinated systems of care can save lives by providing stroke patients with seamless transitions from one stage of care to the next. I believe that this bill that would designate the best medical centers to treat stroke and establish an official state registry must be a priority for all members of the legislature.

I know sometimes you think about aphasia or stroke, what can I really do? "I am only human", but you can do so much, your voice can make a huge difference. Just being here today sharing your story and showing legislators what aphasia is, is making a difference. You are being an advocate today. You Advocacy is creating an environment that motivates people to act and helps increases visibility of your issue. Your advocacy can be powerful tool for producing social change where we live and work and if you don’t – who will? 

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Tedy Tackles the Legislature

On June 18th, Tedy Bruschi came to the State House to talk about important Stroke Legislation. He has been a dedicated advocate for us since suffering his stroke. He spoke passionately to the legislators about how he had a "stroke system of care" in place because he was a three time super bowl champion and a member of the New England Patriots. Shouldn't everyone get the same level of high quality care that Tedy got? He thinks so and I agree! We have been fighting for a number of years to improve the stroke system of care in Massachusetts and we are close. The Senate included language in their budget to create a tiered system of care and we are now fighting to keep it in the final budget. Tedy met with key legislative leaders to ensure that this can happen.

Tedy shared his story and the story of all the people he meets that have not been treated quickly, he talked about why time matters and he spoke about how because he went to the right hospital and was given the right treatment and diagnosis he was able to be a father, a husband and even a football player again. He talked about all the titles he has had over the years, super bowl champion, pro-bowler, but the one he says he is most proud of...Stroke Survivor. I know many other amazing survivors who would agree.

It is time for the legislators to act; it is time for Massachusetts who is a leader in health care with their world-class hospitals to be a leader in providing high quality stroke care. Will you help us?

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