American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Francee Levin, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

The last thing I remember of my poetry residency at Colleton County Middle School was getting an elevator key.  The next thing was seeing a strange ceiling, which turned out to be in an intensive care unit, over a week later.  I was told I was talking to a teacher when I flat-lined.   The diagnosis:  idiopathic asymptomatic sudden cardiac death. 

In fact, I died twice, but I’m still here.  Two incredible school nurses and a resource officer used CPR and an AED to somehow keep me alive.  I was air-lifted to a major medical center, where I was unconscious and on life support for over a week, given no chance for survival. I made the medical journals, because against all odds, I had a miraculous recovery.  

My heart failed and left me with a low ejection fraction.  I now have an implanted defibrillator, and I’m continuing cardiac rehabilitation.  I did not have a heart attack; in fact, my heart cath showed my arteries are perfect.  And I had no risk factors of any kind.  Without the AED and CPR, I wouldn’t be here. 

I was an American Heart Association (AHA) red dress volunteer before, and I’ve been a crusader and You’re the Cure advocate ever since.   Through AHA’s You’re the Cure, I’ve been able to serve as a survivor/spokesperson to provide testimony about the pending CPR bill that will assure every student gets trained before graduating, and had an Op-Ed I wrote ("A School Saved My Life”) published to help educate the public on the issue.  I'm in close contact with my legislators, who have been wonderful, and I've also contacted my county council, as well as the school board in Richland 2, my home district. I try to respond to all the You’re the Cure alerts and customize the legislator letters with my story. 

Colleton County (where I collapsed) School Board and County Council voted to put defibrillators in every school in the county (including some small rural schools) in my honor.

I'm on a mission now. My cardiac event happened on February 1, 2012, on AHA’s National Wear Red Day.  In 2013, my cousins had a party for me on my “heart-iversary.”  A few days later, I learned that on 2/2/13, the school principal, who’s now in another district, was having a robotics tournament on the athletic field when a woman collapsed and was revived with an AED.  

Every school should have an AED and trained people teaching CPR.  The cost is minimal, and the rewards are priceless.  It’s called LIFE.

Thanks to our advocates who turned out to talk about the need for healthy restaurant kids meals to walkers at our Vermont Heart Walk on Saturday, September 26th.  Members of our board and advocacy committee including Jane Kolodinsky, Kim Evans, Mary Cushman, Jennifer Nachbur, Michelle Johnston and Christina Cahill joined volunteer survivor Payton Jones in urging people to sign our petition supporting nutrition standards for kids meals sold at restaurants including removing sugary drinks from kids menus. There was lots of great conversation about helping kids develop healthy eating patterns early! With a sunny day, fresh apples, and lots of walking, it was a great example of making the healthy choice the easy choice!

Welcome Back Brittany!

Brittany Badicke is the newest advocate to join the AHA team, in an exciting role leading our new initiative, Oregon Kids Move with Heart. Brittany is the Regional Campaign Manager for our effort to get more kids physically active during the school day, and over the next year she’ll be working to support our partners at Beaverton School District.

During the summer of 2014, Brittany worked as an Intern with the Advocacy team. During her time with AHA, she built legislative support for evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs in key districts by educating legislators about the local program successes and current needs, and mobilized local public health experts and grassroots leaders to attend in-district meetings.

Brittany grew up in Longview, Washington and after graduating high school moved to Vancouver, Washington, became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and began pre-requisites for nursing school. Being intrigued by acute care, and with more opportunity to work in an acute care setting in Oregon, she earned her CNA II acute care license and moved to Portland, Oregon. Brittany had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings in just over three and a half years as a Certified Nursing Assistant, including: Assisted living, Medical Specialties, Oncology, and Skilled Nursing.

While working as a CNA and meeting several patients suffering from preventable diseases, she realized her passion is in health promotion and disease prevention, leading her to pursue a degree in health education. Brittany recently graduated from Portland State University with her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education.

Over the last year she has also been a volunteer Referral and Care Coordinator at a local community health clinic where she has worked with a multidisciplinary team to provide support and link patients with necessary medical referrals. In her personal time she enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

We couldn’t be more excited to have Brittany (back!) on our team, and we know her tireless efforts will help hundreds of Oregon kids.