The American Heart Association’s advocacy volunteers are called You’re the Cure advocates for a reason. On February 24th, 70 outstanding volunteers brought their passion, stories, and expertise to the White House for the Community Leaders Briefing on Cardiovascular Health. This special event was an important opportunity for high level administration officials to hear from heart disease and stroke patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and community health leaders and discuss the role of public policy in building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The most powerful part of the day was the town hall meeting with Jon Carson, White House Director of Public Engagement, as advocates spoke-up to share their stories, such as:

  • Dr. Willie Lawrence, a cardiologist from Kansas, who described saving a woman’s life using hands-only CPR while dining out the night before the event. He stressed the need for a public trained in CPR and improved access to AEDs.
  • Emery Miller, a teenage congenital heart defect survivor from Arizona, who talked about his upcoming fifth heart surgery and his efforts to inspire other youth in his community to not let challenges hold them back.
  • Ruth Caruthers, a caregiver from West Virginia, who expressed the pain of losing her infant son, Corbin, to heart defects last year. In his honor, she is now leading an advocacy effort to get her state legislature to pass a bill that would require every newborn to be tested for heart defects.

Other event highlights included:

  •  An East Wing tour of the White House.
  • Listening sessions on the Million Hearts Initiative, the Affordable Care Act, National Institutes of Health research, and efforts to reduce health disparities.
  • A “tweet-up” with advocates and Jon Carson.
  • Roundtable discussions on clean air policy, childhood obesity and nutrition policy, and tobacco control policy.

The commitment of our volunteers shined throughout the event as they asked the tough questions and spoke about their local advocacy work. The American Heart Association looks forward to a continued dialogue with the administration as we work to advance heart-healthy and stroke-smart legislation and regulations.

Follow all of the action as it happened on Storify!

For more event pictures, visit www.flickr.com/amheartadvocacy.