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On Friday, September 9th, several New York advocates participated in an event sponsored by the White House, titled "Making Health Care Better Series: Cardiovascular Health."  The day-long forum offered an opportunity for volunteers to directly witness the impact of the American Heart Association's mission. 

The group was invited on a special tour of the White House prior to the briefing which provided an exciting glimpse into the history of the Presidency.  You can see many highlights from the tour on the American Heart Association's social media feed by searching with the tag #HeartAtTheWH.

In addition to the tour, the group joined advocates from across the country for a robust overview from our nation's leaders in heart disease and stroke prevention, care and treatment.  Presenters included Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director of NHLBI, Dr. Nancy Lee, Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Shari Ling, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Debra Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative. 

The New York delegation was also briefed by national leadership from several organizations who have a vested interest in our mission against heart disease and stroke.  The American Heart Association's own CEO, Nancy Brown, presented on the progress made so far in the effort to promote health across the country.  She was joined by executives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, YMCA USA, WomenHeart, the Horizon Foundation and Emory University.

With all of these impressive leaders in one room, perhaps the most impactful presentation was from a panel of heart disease and stroke survivors.  These personal stories of survival were at once inspiring and motivating.  While we have come a long way in our mission, there is still a lot of work to be done.

We are grateful for the many volunteers that attended from across the country. New York was well represented by:

* Annette Adamczak - Volunteer Advocate and one of New York's Premier Voices in Support of CPR & AED Training

* Dr. Mitchell Elkind - Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Fellowships Director, Department of Neurology, Columbia University

* Liz Elting - CEO, TransPerfect and New York City Go Red For Women Leader

* Janice Hall - Senior Vice President, Global Sales Capability at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and NYC Go Red For Women Corporate Chair

* William LaForte - Real Estate Attorney, Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina P.C. and Chair-Elect of the Founders Affiliate Board of Directors

* Wendy Mono - Volunteer Advocate and Chair Emeritus of the New York City Advocacy Committee

* Dr. Cheryl Pegus - Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation, Associate Chair for Clinical Innovation, NYU School of Medicine                    

* Dr. Stacey Rosen - Vice President, Women's Health, Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health and NYC Go Red for Women Medical Chair

The American Heart Association is grateful for the support of these wonderful advocates.  We look forward to putting the lessons learned at the White House to good use for all New Yorkers!

Photo Credit: Stu Mono

Michael Angelucci West Virginia

Michael Angelucci has been a dedicated advocacy champion for heart-health policy in West Virginia for many years. As a You're the Cure advocate, AHA Advocacy Committee Chair and Marion County EMT, he helped spearhead our efforts to pass CPR in Schools legislation in 2015. Critical to the success of the bill, he helped compile a comprehensive listing of all facilities in the state that were willing and able to teach CPR in Schools once passed, and allowed us to share it with the state department of education as a resource. In addition, he helped to teach a CPR in Schools training at the WV statewide KidStrong conference, where hundreds of health and physical education teachers and coaches attended.

And his dedication to improving healthy in the Mountain State doesn't end with passage of CPR in Schools legislation. Michael also rounded up thousands of signatures and delivered petitions to lawmakers to help us protect clean indoor air regulations around the state when several bills were introduced to weaken them in the 2015 and 2016 WV Legislation Sessions.

 In preparation for the 2016 legislative session, Michael participated in several meetings with department of health, EMS officials and neurology specialists in the state to help lay the groundwork for our Stroke Facility Designation bill. During the session, he attended committee meetings for the bill, contacted lawmakers and attended our State Lobby Day on February 2nd. At Lobby Day, he brought several employees with him and the group conducted a Hands-Only CPR training on the floor of the Senate during AHA's Go Red Week! Thanks in large part to Michael's efforts, the Stroke Bill was passed in the 2016 Session.

We were excited to be able to present Micheal with the 2016 American Heart Association Distinguished Achievement Award for his outstanding dedication to the health of the Mountain State. Thank you, Michael, for everything you do!

Catherine Zalewski is a mother of 2, a certified personal trainer, a former Mrs. New Jersey and a stroke survivor. She suffered her first stroke at the age of 28, about 6 months after giving birth to her daughter. It was discovered that she had a hole in heart which was repaired through surgery. She suffered another stroke shortly after the birth of her second child.

When Catherine had her first stroke, she was home alone with her infant and didn't know what was happening. She didn't receive treatment until 7 hours later. It took weeks for her to relearn how to do everyday tasks like walking and taking care of her baby. During the second stroke, she was at work with a client and someone realized what was happening. They called 911 immediately and she was taken to the hospital. She received tPA within an hour and it made a world of difference. This time, she went home within a week and was able to go back to her normal routine quickly.

Catherine knows firsthand how important it is for stroke patients to receive quality care in a timely fashion. That is why she is a volunteer advocate for the American Heart Association| American Stroke Association. Recently, Catherine testified before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on legislation that will improve the stroke system of care in New Jersey. She looks forward to continuing her advocacy as the bill makes it's way through the Legislature.