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Guest Blogger: Lyudmila Chernenko- Intern, AHA Sacramento California Office 

 

My Family & a Career Improving the Health of Others Are Why

 

I am a current intern at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and I chose to intern here because of the mission. The mission to build lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke resonates closely with me. I am proud to be from a big, but very close, family of 17. Recently, my dad had a stroke and my family and I felt so hopeless and scared because we thought he might not survive. It was unexpected as I am sure most strokes are and overall we thought my father was healthy. When my father had a stroke we immediately called 9-1-1 and he was rushed to the hospital. At the hospital there were lots of tests and medication given which allowed my father to recover and come back to our big family.

 

Stroke kills nearly 129,000 people a year. In fact, it is the number 5 killer in US. The AHA/ASA is doing everything possible to minimize the risk of having strokes and to improve the health of those who have been affected by stroke. I love the clever acronym and supporting campaign created by the organization to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of stroke: F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech Difficulty, and Time to call 911). These warning signs helped my family recognize that my dad was having a stroke. We saw him having trouble speaking and he also had weakness in his arm so we called 911.

 

My internship here has also helped to add real world experience to what I am studying in school as a Health Science Administration major. I have been helping on our campaign to teach students CPR, learning about our campaign to limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and connecting the dots about how the policy aspects of health relate to the administrative side of things my professors discuss. For example eating healthy and exercising can lower costs on the administrative end. 

 

Ultimately helping improve people’s health makes me happy and motivates me to do even more. I support the AHA/ASA’s work so we can all lead healthier lives and others can make sure their loved ones do not have a stroke like my dad did, and if that loved one were to suffer a stroke, they would be in a position to survive.

Over a dozen Oahu stroke survivors and their caregivers participated in the inaugural American Heart Association Saving Strokes event held at the Ko Olina Golf Club on Oct. 21. The event was funded through a generous grant from the H.T. Hayashi Foundation.

AHA You’re The Cure advocate Chris McLachlin, himself a stroke survivor, worked with the AHA’s staff to help organize the event. Below are a few words from him on the event:

The AHA staff approached me about helping to organize the event because of my background as both a stroke survivor, and my connections to golf since my son Parker plays on the professional tour. Parker’s first coach is Greg Nichols, the general manager and director of golf at Ko Olina Golf Club. I know that Greg is service- and community-minded, so it was easy for me to call him and ask his club to host the event.
 
Greg’s staff was tremendous in accommodating both survivors with limited disability, as well as those with more severe disability. They were great at teaching basic skills in putting, chipping and driving the ball. The stroke survivors who I spoke with after the event expressed great satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment in doing something that they didn’t before think that they could do. You could see their self-confidence grow, as well as the collegiality formed between them, the pros, and their caregivers. It was an exciting event and I’m looking forward to helping organize another one here in Hawaii.

Thank you Chris for everything you do for the AHA. Without volunteers like you we couldn't do what we do.

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.

 

As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!