American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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National Eating Healthy Day Recognized in OKC

On November 4th the Oklahoma City Voices for Healthy Kids team attended the Oklahoma City Council meeting where we announced the signing of the proclamation by Mayor Mick Cornett declaring November 5th, as National Eating Healthy Day!

During the Public Comment portion of the meeting, we provided a brief overview of National Eating Healthy Day as it relates to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, we informed the council on how healthy options are not readily accessible in underserved areas within our community. The council was very receptive of the information and a general interest was conveyed for the initiative we are leading.

Councilman Pete White showed his interest in Tulsa’s Food on the Move and shared his desire to have similar localized nutrition conscious efforts implemented in Oklahoma City.  Mayor Mick Cornett re-tweeted a YTC tweet with the picture of staff and proclamation.

On November 5th the OKC VFHK team, along with Jennifer Seal,  AHA employee and local business owner, dropped off healthy food baskets to each of the Oklahoma City Councilmembers, Mayor Mick Cornett, and City Manager James Couch.

In each of these baskets was a short fact sheet about National Eating Healthy Day, which included a short tie-in to food access issues in Oklahoma City.

If you would like more information on our Voices for Healthy Kids effort please contact

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Tulsa Recognizes World Stroke Day

On October 23rd at the weekly City Council meeting, the Tulsa Council issued a proclamation recognizing October 29th as World Stroke Day. This was in the first time the Tulsa City Council has issued a proclamation related to stroke awareness.

In attendance to accept the proclamation was You’re the Cure advocates Donna McDannold and Thurman Paul.  Naomi Amaha and Communications Director Lindsey Hansen were also in attendance representing the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

After the proclamation was accepted, Donna McDannold shared her story as a multiple-stroke survivor. Since 2011, Donna has endured seven strokes. Before her first stroke, she served as a critical care stroke specialist. Now Donna is an active stroke awareness advocate and huge supporter for the AHA’s advocacy work.  Her speech touched every person in the room, resulting in a standing ovation. 

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Meet Pkaye Washington

Hello I'm Pkaye Washington. Back in 1991, I was diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition where the muscles of my heart didn't pump as strong as a normal person.  Since then I've been hospitalized at least three times due to heart related issues. I realized that sodium is my enemy and that I must maintain my body weight to keep excess stress off my heart. 

Maintaining the correct blood pressure has been tricky and a struggle, but each day is a blessing to try again.  In October 2012 I was crowned Ms. Texas Classic of the United America Pageant.  The pageant promotes volunteering at a non-profit organization.  Being a heart patient, the AHA is where I landed, and I'm so glad I did! Being able to use this platform to get the word out about all facets of maintaining a healthy heart has been a true pleasure.  

I have volunteered with the AHA’s Multicultural Initiatives department and currently serve as the Austin Grassroots Action Team Chair.

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Youth Advocate Brett Harris Steps Up for Smoke-Free

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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State of Obesity 2014: Oklahoma Report

Each year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation releases their annual The State of Obesity report. For 11 years, this annual report aims to raise awareness about the seriousness and impact of the obesity epidemic, through in-depth research and analysis.

The American Heart Association encourages lawmakers to pass strong obesity prevention policies that will encourage healthier lifestyles and reduce obesity rates.

The results are in for Oklahoma, and they are alarming:

-Oklahoma now has the seventh highest adult obesity rate in the nation.
-Oklahoma's adult obesity rate is 32.5 percent, up from 24.1 percent in 2004
-The projected number of cases of heart disease just in Oklahoma will rise to over 1 million by 2030

We want state and local governments to be leaders in the fight for healthier living. One way they can do this is by improving food options they provide in vending machines in their buildings. Providing healthy options creates a culture of health and will help combat obesity rates in Oklahoma.

Armed with this new data, will you help us tell lawmakers make obesity prevention a priority? Click this link and take action today:

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Study: Most Wikipedia articles about medical conditions contain errors

Doctors say relaying on medical information from Wikipedia is a mistake.  A research article in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association compared Wikipedia to medical journals and found major flaws in articles regarding diabetes, high blood pressure, lung cancer and more.

The American Heart Association recommends dialing 9-1-1 if you believe there is a medical emergency.  If there is not an emergency and you want to learn more about health and disease prevention we recommend using trusted sources such as: The American Heart Association ( or the U.S. Center for Disease Control ( )

For the full news article on this story you can visit:

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Advocates Visit Congressional Offices, Promote Healthy School Meals in Oklahoma

As the summer draws to an end, You’re the Cure advocates across the nation have traveled to their respective United States Representative and Senator’s district offices to advocate of the reauthorization for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and ask  Congress to maintain the  nutrition standards.  The message was clear: Healthy school meals ‘fit’ into a successful school day for kids and we are ‘puzzled’ by efforts to weaken or delay the necessary nutrition standards.  

Oklahoma You’re the Cure Advocates Donna McDannold and Thurman Paul helped deliver that message to U.S. Senator James Inhofe’s office by providing staff with  puzzle pieces containing important facts about how the school nutrition standards are working.  Advocates also shared their personal thoughts on why nutrition standards in schools is good for the state of Oklahoma and its youth. This meeting was the first of a continued dialogue between the Senator’s office and the American Heart Association.

Have you told your U.S. Senator or Representative to support reauthorization of the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act? Visit the Action Center and take action today! 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Thurman Paul

Thurman Paul of Tulsa, Oklahoma is like many You’re the Cure Advocates; he is connected to stroke. His father’s uncle suffered a stroke two years ago.  His interest in the Advocacy work of the American Heart Association began with a simple call to action to sign a petition in support of obesity prevention on the community level.

Thurman promptly signed the petition and answered a follow-up email to supporters of the petition asking for those interested in learning more about the American Heart Association’s advocacy work to reply to the email. He did so because he believes finding a cure for heart disease and stroke should be a priority.  Thurman’s first activity as a You’re the Cure Advocate involved a visit to U.S. Senator James Inhofe’s office to advocate for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The concept of volunteerism and activism is not a new one for Thurman. He recently returned from a service trip to Nicaragua where he taught classes and distributed food and supplies to youth groups.

Thurman has also worked with his mother to visit juvenile centers and visit with youth.   Travel and new experiences are a driving factor in his commitment to service. “Volunteerism is a way for me to give back while being around people,” he said. 

Interested in becoming more involved with the American Heart Association’s fight to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke? Email Brian Bowser at to learn more about how you can take action!

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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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Schools Report Students Favor Healthier Lunches

According to a recent study conducted by Bridging the Gap Research of school administrators at elementary, middle and high schools of students’ reactions to the healthier lunches, 70 percent of schools thought that students liked the new lunches.

By the spring of SY 2012‐13, school administrators in U.S. public elementary, middle and high schools reported that the majority of students liked the new meals, at least to some extent. Across all grade levels, most respondents reported that students complained initially in fall 2012 but that far fewer students were complaining by the time of the surveys in spring2013.  

Most American children consume more sugar, fat and sodium and fewer fruits, vegetables and whole grains than recommended. School meals, which feed more than 30 million children and adolescents each year, play a major role in shaping the diets and health of young people.

Learn more about these findings here:

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