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Recap of Walking Day in Utah

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

On April 2nd, 2014, people from across the nation gathered together for National Walking Day – a day set aside each year by the American Heart Association|American Stroke Association to encourage Americans to get active for their heart health.

Here in Utah this day was celebrated at various businesses, hospitals, stroke rehab centers, and government offices. Governor Gary Herbert recently declared April 2, 2014 as “Walking Day in Utah” where he joined with the American Heart Association “to encourage all our residents, both young and old, to increase our physical activity by starting to walk regularly, and fight against heart disease and stroke by reducing our risk for cardiovascular diseases.”

Additionally, the Summit County Council recently passed a Proclamation in support of National Walking Day. Based on the fact that “50 percent of adults and 62 percent of children do not engage in daily vigorous physical activity,” the County Councilmembers reached out to all County Employees and encouraged them to go for a 30 minute walk at some point during the day.  Turnout was great as countless county employees to the streets for a brief walk.  The hope is that all of those that participated will not only recognize the need for their own daily exercise routine, but share that message with their family and friends as we aim for a healthier state and community.

Whether it is the choice to go to the gym instead of watching a show, or picking the healthier snack instead of the late afternoon donut, all of us have the opportunity to take little steps towards living a healthier life. I hope this Walking Day has sparked your interest to develop a daily workout routine that works for you.  If you are bored of doing the same workout, please click here to see new walking paths in your area.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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My Heart Month Highlight

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah

This past month we had the privilege of celebrating many wonderful holidays. From Groundhogs Day to Valentines, from President’s Day to Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17th). But most importantly, let’s not forget that February was also American Heart Month! The American Heart Association|American Stroke Association chose February to raise the awareness about the importance of heart and stroke issues – the #1 and #4 killers in America today.

On the first Friday of each February, we host our annual Heart on the Hill Lobby Da. It also happens to be National Wear Red Day. On this day we spread awareness about heart disease and stroke and also lobby for heart-healthy legislation. The turnout for this year’s event was absolutely wonderful and drew substantial media coverage

First, Representative Paul Ray kicked off the event by sharing his story about his lifelong battle with cardiovascular issues. He was born with a congenital heart defect and has survived multiple heart surgeries.  His connection with cardiovascular issues has led him to be an AHA champion for many years!

Next, Scott Hunt, an employee at VLCM, was honored for his life-saving efforts in which he and fellow employee Gavin Fenton saved the life of Kent Carothers who suffered a heart attack while at work. Scott and Gavin rushed to Kent’s side to perform CPR and because of their heroic efforts Kent is alive and well today! Please read his story here.

Subsequently, Dr. Lillian Khor – a cardiovascular surgeon at the University of Utah and current President of the Utah Board of Directors – trained our volunteers on the techniques of Hands-Only CPR. She also spoke in depth about the importance of restoring funding for CPR Training in High Schools across the state.

Lastly, Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart taught our volunteers about the legislative process and provided effective tips to communicating with our local elected officials. The Speaker is a Registered Nurse and a longtime proponent of heart-healthy legislation.  This will be her last session in the legislature and we express our gratitude to her for her many years of service!

To round out our activities on the Hill, there was special presentation on the House and Senate Floor lead by Representative Carol Spackman-Moss (a heart survivor herself) and Senator Brian Shiozawa (an Emergency Room Physician), respectively.  These legislators honored a number of “Heart Savers” from across the state – including Scott, a few college students who saved the life of their professor, and two High School football coaches who saved the life of one of their athletes – for being lifesavers. There were few dry eyes amongst the crowd, including our elected officials.

I would like to pay special thanks to the many staff, volunteers, and attendees who made this year’s Heart on the Hill an absolute success! Your response to our call for action and the restoration of CPR training funds have resonated with legislators from across the political spectrum. While there are just a few days left in the legislative session, we have high hopes that these funds will be restored and our children and grandchildren will once again receive CPR training in their classrooms!

Thanks for all of your help!

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Advocate Spotlight: Scott Hunt

Nearly 30 years ago a young Scott Hunt sat with his Boy Scout Troop as they watched the instructor show them how to perform CPR. Like most Scouts at his age, they were mesmerized by this simple, yet effective means of saving someone’s life if they happened to suffer a heart attack.

Many years have passed since that Merit Badge training course and though Scott has never taken a “refresher” course or become certified, training from decades ago flooded his mind as the unthinkable happened one day at work in 2013.

“When Kent Carothers collapsed we were in the warehouse and I had my back turned to him.  Initially when I turned around I thought that he had just tripped and fallen to the ground. But after he did not respond to me asking him if he was okay, myself and another co-worker turned him over. That is when I knew he was in need of assistance.”

“I asked my co-worker to call 911.  I yelled and asked for someone else to come assist me in performing CPR. Initially I think there were a lot of the employees that were in shock and did not know how to react. After an eternity – but was more likely just a few seconds – Gavin Fenton came in and started helping me administer CPR. Though neither of us were certified, we knew that we had to do something to save Kent. Sitting around and doing nothing was simply not an option.”

“We performed CPR for about 5-7 minutes until the paramedics arrived. We were exhausted and had no idea if our efforts would be enough to save Kent. But at the very least, we knew that we had done something to help.” 

Today, Kent Carothers is back at work thanks to the bravery of his best friends Scott and Gavin.  They still reminisce about that cold November day that seemed like it would go on just like any other. But a call for help and the desire to step into action turned this typical day into one that none of these gentlemen will ever be able to forget!

Thank you Scott and Gavin for your quick thinking and for illustrating the importance of knowing CPR techniques.  For those of you who do not know CPR or would like a quick refresher, please visit the here!

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Heart on the Hill 2014 in Review

Friday, February 7th was a big day for the American Heart Association!  As it was the 11th annual Go Red for Women Day, we thought it would be a perfect day for our annual event, Heart on the Hill Day.  On this day, AHA volunteers stormed the Capitol in RED to raise awareness about heart disease as well as advocate for life saving policies designed to make Utah a healthier place to live. Specifically, we urged lawmakers to restore funding for CPR training in high schools as funding was originally cut when the Recession hit. 

Thanks to our volunteers, Heart on the Hill Day was a successful event.  As a quick review of the day, we started with a heart healthy breakfast and quickly followed with a wonderful program consisting of a group of passionate speakers including: Rep. Paul Ray, Dr. Lillian Khor who gave us a physician’s perspective on the importance of knowing CPR; “Heart Saver” Award recipient Scott Hunt who spoke on his experience saving the life of his co-worker; and House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart.  Following the program, we had a special CPR presentation on the House and Senate floors where individuals who saved lives using CPR were recognized.  After the CPR presentations, community members were encouraged to individually meet with their legislators as well as participate in the complementary health screenings in the Capitol Rotunda. 

Thank you for being a You’re the Cure Advocate and supporting policies that will make Utah a healthier place to live.  Please visit the action center to stay up-to-date on legislative updates as well as stay in touch with your legislators.

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Introducing Kami Sutton

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator, Western States Affiliate

Hi there YTC Advocates! I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Kami Sutton and I am the new Grassroots Coordinator for the Western States Affiliate of the American Heart Association. As someone living with a congenital heart defect, I have been a longtime Heart Walk team captain and volunteer here in Seattle and after I graduated from the University of Washington (Go Huskies!) I knew I wanted to make a career of giving back to an organization that has made me who I am today. It is because of the research and medical advancements that have been made by the American Heart Association to repair congenital defects, I am here today. I have spent the past year as the Office Coordinator here in the Seattle office working on office operations, finance and community outreach and I am so excited to be joining the Advocacy team!

After attending my first Lobby Day last January, I knew this is the direction I wanted to take my career. I was given the opportunity to share my story with my legislators and share my passion for this organization and that was all I needed to be hooked on Advocacy.

I always knew I wanted a job that meant something, where I could help make a difference. I really feel that is what the opportunity to work with the Advocacy department has given me. With the help of all of our amazing YTC Advocates, volunteers, board members and my fellow staff members, we are helping make the United States a healthier place to live, one city, county, and state at a time! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about our organization, the grassroots advocacy department and of course the You’re The Cure site! Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us! I cannot wait to work with you on our future advocacy adventures!

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Learn & Share Your Post-Stroke Tips

After a stroke, even the simplest tasks can be very challenging.  Survivors often face limb weakness, numbness or paralysis, communication challenges, and difficulty with their vision.  However, we know stroke survivors and caregivers across the country are persevering and discovering new, creative ways to carry out the daily tasks they need to.  Through their recovery, they find a 'new normal' and we want to help share these helpful tips far and wide. 

That's why the American Stroke Association created a volunteer-powered library- Tips for Daily Living- to gather ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!  For example, do you have to put up a ponytail with one hand?  Watch Karen’s video!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Help us grow the library!  Do you have something to share that could help stroke survivors?  Share your tips by completing the online submission form at www.StrokeAssociation.org/tips.  You’ll get a FREE AHA/ASA recipe book and Stroke Solidarity String for participating!

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My Lifesaving Story Experience

Written by Ryan Fowles, Utah

As an Eagle Scout, I was required to learn life-saving skills as part of the first aid merit badge many years ago. When I was 11 or 12 years old, my cousin and I took the first aid class in Gunnison, Utah at the LDS stake center. I remember learning CPR and hoped I would never have to use it. Fortunately, the procedure for CPR had always stayed with me – even as an adult.

A couple years ago my cousin, had to give CPR to a man that collapsed on his farm while loading up some hay. After talking with my cousin about his experience he shared how the paramedics on the phone walked him through proper CPR procedure.  In fact, I learned recently that CPR guidelines are updated every two years! Here’s the latest in AHA guidelines.

Many years later in college I was eating lunch and the thought hit me to head to class early.  As I rounded a corner of the PE building I saw Professor Baker on the ground and another student, Jacob Probert, checking for vital signs. My first thought was "this is a great place for a teacher to set up a dummy for students to practice CPR." I figured it was some practice drill and did my best to stay out of the way, but as I got closer I noticed that Professor Baker wasn't a training dummy and something was wrong. Jacob told me that the professor didn't have a pulse and he began compressions. My training kicked-in. The decision to help wasn't a question as I positioned myself to give breaths when necessary. I didn't have anything to wipe his mouth off with or a breathing barrier, but as his life was in danger, I proceeded with mouth-to-mouth. It all worked like clockwork.

Several minutes into CPR another student, Jared Wenn, and an off-duty EMT showed up with emergency equipment. Jared and the off-duty EMT helped Jacob with chest compressions while I continued rescue breaths. When the paramedics got there they took over and I continued on to class. I was relieved to later learn that our actions had saved Professor Baker’s life.

Reflecting on that experience, I often think of the quote from Spider Man which says "With great power comes great responsibility." I believe that knowledge is a form of power. I was raised to take on responsibility and was taught to work hard and get the job done. I am glad that I had the knowledge to help another person in their time of need. I have been called a hero, but I'm far from that. The only people I hope to hear that I am a hero from are my children. How can they see me as a hero if I don't take on responsibility and become the best person I can be? 

I believe it is in everyone's best interest to be trained in first aid skills, including CPR, and be willing and able to use them when the need arises.

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Legislative Session Preview

It’s hard to believe that Utah is getting ready to start a new legislative session on Monday, January 27. While we have been working hard preparing to pass lifesaving policies this year, it is YOU that is critical to our success! 

Take action today to fight heart disease and stroke in 2014. CLICK HERE to show your support of the AHA’s legislative priorities this year: 

  • Tobacco Control Legislation: Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, claiming about 443,000 lives every year.
  • Secure funding for CPR in Schools Training: This policy’s goal is to obtain funding to train all public high school students in CPR before graduation –  preparing the majority of Utah’s annual high school students to be life savers! Using CPR and AEDs can triple a victim’s chance of surviving a sudden cardiac event.

Here are three ways you can get ready for the upcoming session:
1. Is your profile up-to-date? Please take a moment to update your You’re the Cure profile to ensure that you receive communication on topics that mean the most to you.  

2. Share your story. The You’re the Cure network allows advocates like yourself to interact with each other as well as tell your story as a way to motivate and inspire others who may have similar stories to yourself.  Your story matters so please inspire us!

3. Don’t forget, Utah’s Heart on the Hill Day Lobby Day at the State Capitol will be on Friday, February 7th. Please save the date in your calendars and keep an eye out for more details to come! We would love for you to join us in Salt Lake City so please RSVP today, registration is free but space is limited.

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Ready for the New Year?

As you know, the AHA and ASA aims to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing the deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020.  Thanks to advocates like you, we’ve made a tremendous progress towards our goals, but we still have a lot of work to do!  Are you excited to continue to save lives this 2014?

When’s the last time you visited yourethecure.org?  If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to stop by and update the interests in your You’re the Cure profile to ensure that you receive timely alerts on topics that mean the most to you. 

When’s the last time you took action? Please take a moment to visit our action center to refresh yourself on recent legislative updates.  Your voice makes a difference! 

How has heart disease or stroke impacted your life?  Please share your story with us today by clicking here.  Our network is made of amazing individuals and we hope you take the opportunity to share your story so that the network can get to know you. 

Thank you for being a You’re the Cure Advocate and standing up for a heart-healthy future for yourself and your loved ones. Together, we’re making a difference to save lives!   

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