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Advocate Spotlight: Matthew and Sherry Pickett, Kentucky

Matthew and Sherry Pickett Kentucky

My Stroke Hero is my son, Matthew Pickett. Matthew was born on June 2, 1999, and within 24 hours, he coded. Also during that time, he had stroke. Unfortunately, the cardiologist had to wait days for the bleeding to stop in order to do his first open heart surgery.

As I visited with Matthew while he was in NICU, the nurse was feeding him by bottle. Matthew aspirated on milk and required a Gtube. We taught Matthew to eat by dipping a pacifier in baby food to get him to eat and were finally able to remove the Gtube in 2007, as he was eating table foods and gaining weight.

Matthew has made tremendous progress over the years. He is up to 116 pounds, has a great appetite and loves vegetables and meat. This semester, as we were transitioning Matthew to high school, the speech therapist reported that he has met all his goals and agreed to discharge him from his speech therapy. For the first time in 15 years Matthew has no therapies and we are so proud of him.

Matthew is not only my Heart Hero but my Stroke Hero. I'm very blessed and proud to be his mom.

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Ginnie Gick

Ginnie Gick, Maryland

May 20, 2010, started out like many mornings in Ginnie Gick’s household. Ginnie was making breakfast for her three kids. Her husband Dan, who happened to be running late that morning, was gathering his things and getting ready to leave for work.

That morning changed Ginnie’s life forever.

While searching through her pantry, Ginnie suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. After calling 911, Dan performed CPR and was able to keep blood (and therefore oxygen) circulating through her body until an ambulance arrived to treat her with a defibrillator and rush her to the hospital.  

“If he hadn’t been there,” says Ginnie. “I wouldn’t be here.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the US, and only about 1 of every 10 people who experience this devastating event outside a hospital survive. Importantly, however, many people who have a sudden cardiac arrest CAN survive if they receive immediate CPR and are treated quickly with a defibrillator.

After her sudden cardiac arrest, Ginnie immersed herself in learning more about sudden cardiac arrest, and became an active member of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) You’re the Cure network. Among her long list of contributions to AHA’s mission, Ginnie was the top fundraiser at the 2010 Howard County Maryland Heart Walk, she lobbied Congress in 2013 to support medical research funding for the National Institute of Health, and she has served on the Silent Auction Committee for the Howard County Heart Ball for the past 5 years.

Ginnie has also become a vocal advocate for CPR training in schools in Maryland. In 2014, Ginnie lobbied alongside the American Heart Association to successfully pass Breanna’s Law, which made CPR training a requirement for high school graduation in Maryland. Speaking from her personal experience, Ginnie says, “We live in a time of such important advances in medical research and technology. But when you’re having a sudden cardiac arrest, none of that matters if you aren’t immediately given CPR.”

Although Ginnie is still here today to tell her story, many other sudden cardiac arrest victims are not. Sadly a few years ago, Ginnie’s oldest brother had a sudden cardiac arrest and did not survive. After his death, Ginnie began genetic counseling, and discovered that she and other members of her family have a genetic mutation that significantly increases their risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Having this information has motivated Ginnie and her family to take steps to better prepare themselves should they experience sudden cardiac arrest in the future.

Working with You’re the Cure has enabled Ginnie to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, raise funding for medical research, and advocate for policies to increase CPR training. “I am grateful for the opportunity to make sure people are prepared and able to act if something happens,” says Ginnie.

We are so thankful for Ginnie’s amazing contributions!

Are you passionate about advocacy? Tell us your story HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Special thanks to You’re the Cure intern and advocate Hannah Jones, for help developing this story>

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Advocate Spotlight: Bill Forester

Bill Forester recalls the moment he heard the doctors tell his family that he was gone. At 51-years-old, he was a college professor, realtor, director of labor and public speaker who led a healthy lifestyle. "I was a vegetarian, I ran and I never smoked," said Bill, which is why it was such a shock when he had a stroke that left him in a coma for three days.

Thankfully, Bill awoke, but was paralyzed and unable to speak. When he first regained some ability to speak, his vocabulary was limited to just four word, but he was determined to get his life back. At times, he would study a single sentence for hours just to learn it. "I wanted to fully recover, and I didn’t care what it took." After lengthy physical, occupational and speech therapy, Bill regained his speech and has even been able to run a half marathon. He has since found a new talent and passion--painting.

Bill offers some advice to others who are going through a similar situation. "Never, never give up!"

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You're the Cure Hero: Bob Biggins

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

I had my stroke in 2003 while serving in the Illinois legislature. I'd already been working with the American Heart Association on health care issues so after I was able, I became a visible advocate for heart healthy issues.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

Now retired, I continue to address heart healthy matters as I serve on a study group established by the legislature to continue work begun for stroke survivors. Our work product is shared nationally with the neediest populations affected by stroke.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

I work with a stroke advocacy group called SSEEO. We've initiated a new survivor- to- survivor program that has been received very positively by both providers and recipients.

What is your favorite way to be active?

I exercise at my local health facility three times a week but also keep physically busy with eight of our grandchildren living in the same house.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Banana fresh off the tree!

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Advocate Spotlight: Lois Mauch

Lois Mauch North Dakota

We all want to make a difference; I had the opportunity to participate as a representative of North Dakota Society of Healthy and Physical Educators, (ND SHAPE) with the American Heart Association Lobby day. Advocacy is important no matter what your profession is and becoming a member of that profession is also just as important. 

I am a physical education teacher and now a director for a federal grant to promote physical education, physical activity and good nutrition; I was honored when asked to be a part of the American Heart Association Lobby day.  I wrote letters to my representatives and asked them to stop by the booth.  They all stopped to say hello and discuss the bills and changes we needed to make for our young people.  There were moments of frustration, gratitude, laughter, and honor.  Conversations were meaningful and satisfying and it opened new doors to look at other bills that might be sponsored in favor of a healthier America.

Advocacy requires teamwork.  Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives, and it is the fire that allows common people to attain uncommon results. Let's remember after all, our students who need heart healthy education, activities and good nutrition are about 30% of the population but they are 100% of the FUTURE! 

You, too, need to become a member of your professional organization.  Make a difference, lobby for a cause you believe in. The experience will set you on fire! You might even get in on a selfie!

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Leonard Edloe, Jr, PharmD

Leonard Edloe Jr, PharmD,Virginia

Dr. Leonard Edloe is a staunch supporter for the profession of pharmacy in numerous areas of public policy. The drive to help others led him to many worthwhile pursuits, including active advocacy with You’re the Cure.

A retired pharmacist now, Dr. Edloe was the Chief Executive Officer of Edloe's Professional Pharmacies, one of America’s largest chains of black-owned pharmacies located in Richmond, Virginia. He is the Pastor of New Hope Fellowship in Hartfield, VA. He also holds a long-list of prestigious awards and board appointments and has a passion for getting people to really understand the drugs they’re taking and being healthy.  “Doc,” as he is often referred to, was likely Richmond area’s best-known pharmacist.  At the age of 65, he closed the nearly seven decade old pharmacy that was started by his father.

His story is not unfamiliar to many cardiovascular advocates.  He admits, “I have a terrible history of cardiovascular disease in my family.”  His sister died of a heart attack, and his brother also, at only 54. A total of five family members have been directly affected by cardiovascular disease. He had his own scare when he suffered a heart attack at the tender age of 38.

Among numerous endeavors to look out for his fellow man, Dr. Edloe recommended establishment of the ‘Preferred Drug List’ to the Governor of Virginia, approval of which not only saved the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars, but maintained fees paid to pharmacists for their services. He has been a tremendous resource to editors and reporters in both print and TV media. He is a frequent guest on nationwide radio shows and even hosts his own radio show on Thursday’s expanding the role pharmacists play in healthcare. (Listen to his show on WCLM between 11:30am and 1pm Thursdays!)

When asked what he feels is lacking in the area of cardiovascular disease he stated “More could be done…  what is happening now in the medical community is there is a strong focus on medication instead of diet, exercise and stopping the behaviors that often cause illness. The approach to just add more medication is going to catch up with people. Eating right and exercising have been important since Genesis was written. We have wonderful medical technology but we should not depend on it for a quick cure.”  He went as far as to remove salt shakers from the tables at the church he pastored.  In 1975 while a practicing pharmacist, he even stopped selling tobacco products in all of his pharmacies.

Currently serving in a leadership capacity to Virginia’s You’re the Cure advocacy team, he says, “As individuals we should be concerned for each other.  Personal responsibility and looking out for others is the answer.”  His track record amply demonstrates a man living that credo.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Thanks to You’re The Cure advocate Karen Wiggins for help developing this blog post>

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Marilyn Boyd, Tennessee

Marilyn Boyd was 46-years-old, one day and 90-years-old the next.

She couldn’t move her right side and speaking had become difficult — at least that’s what she was told. “I thought that something must’ve been wrong with their ears because in my head, I sounded fine,” Marilyn said. “That’s one of the things of a stroke that’s really strange.” Although she was still 46, Marilyn’s abilities had become so hindered due to her stroke, she felt she was much older.

Marilyn’s survivor story began when she was outside her Jackson, Tennessee home wrangling the family’s cats one July night in 2002. While reaching for a cat under a metal chair, something went wrong. “I had a cat-tatrophe,” said Marilyn. That wrong move caused Marilyn to collapse and she hit her head on a terra cotta flower pot. Her husband Howard heard the clash and called for an ambulance when he saw her unconscious. Doctors now describe her incident as a “traumatic cerebral accident leading to a stroke.” 

“I didn’t have any risk factors for stroke,” said Marilyn. “This is something that can truly hit anyone at any time.”

After her treatment in the hospital, Marilyn began learning elementary skills again, like speaking, brushing her teeth and tying her shoes. The main focus of her rehabilitation was speech therapy, and after months of work and continued concentration, Marilyn could communicate again.

Now, Marilyn is speaking out in a big way. Using her experiences for reference, she has spent many hours in the offices of her local, state and federal lawmakers to help increase funding on stroke research, care and education.

“If you talk enough to enough people, somebody’s gonna do something,” she said.

Marilyn’s hoping that not only lawmakers, but also stroke survivors will get involved. She believes - by sharing her story other stroke survivors would benefit.

“I don’t view myself as significant,” Marilyn said. “But the issue is significant, so anything that’s done to help it is so important.” 

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Advocate Spotlight: Kathy McCormick

When I woke up at 6:30 AM on October 22, 2013 I knew something was terribly wrong. I tried to get out of bed and found it difficult to walk. I called for my husband, who had just returned from the gym, he found me slumped on the bed and with the slurred voice I said, "I think I'm having a stroke."  I convinced him to not call for an ambulance,   - I didn't want the fanfare- instead, I asked him to drive me to the hospital. Not a smart move!

My ride to the hospital was very difficult because my equilibrium was off and with every turn and bump in the road I began to feel more nauseous and it also seemed to take forever to get to the hospital.  Once in the hospital I was told I had a mild stroke due to the long-term effects of hypertension.  I knew I had high blood pressure - and I was even on medication for it. My doctor had even increased my dosage a few months earlier, but a small vessel in the base of my brain, called the Pons area, ruptured and a piece of plaque was released.

After three days in the hospital I was sent home with strict instructions: change my diet, take a daily reading of my blood pressure, get plenty of sleep and begin physical therapy. Now the hard work would really begin.

For the next several months my life took on a new normal for me. Friends brought food, family members took turns coming to help care for me and strenuous physical therapy sessions helped to awaken my muscles. I had to learn to do many things all over again. I struggled with walking, speaking, reading, and even writing legibly.  I had to also re-learn how to swallow liquids and learn to drive a car again.

Once I was able to return to my gym I used a personal trainer to help me continue working on my strength, balance and coordination.  Today, I feel healthier than I did before my stroke.  I am working each day to continue my improvement both physically and mentally.

I used to think strokes happened only to older people; however, I now know that's not true. They can happen to anyone at any age. I have learned so much from the American Heart/Stroke Association and will continue to pledge my support for them and I am willing to lend support to fellow stroke survivors.

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Campbell Martinez, Louisiana

Campbell Martinez, Louisiana

Campbell was diagnosed with Tetrology of Fallot the day she was born.  On March 2, 2011, at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, she had open heart surgery at only 6 months old.

Campbell is almost 2 years old now and she’s doing great!  She loves coloring, drawing with chalk and playing with her twin sister and two older sisters.  She has been an absolute trooper and a blessing to our entire family. We feel very blessed and privileged that God gave her to us!

My family and I are thankful to and support the American Heart Association because without them, the technology and studies for heart disease and stroke would not be as advanced as they are today.  I believe that because of the American Heart Association, our sweet Campbell will have a healthy life just as the rest of us do!

I will continue raising money each year for babies born with TOF and other heart conditions because every child deserves a great life.  Through the American Heart Association, we are several steps closer each day to making this happen.

UPDATE: This post was originally written in December 2013, and we'd like to update you on how Campbell is doing today.  "She is doing amazing!  She is currently playing Wee-Ball with her twin, Carrington, and has more energy than all three of her sisters put together!  She is very outgoing and keeps me on my toes.  We still have visits to her cardiologist every 6 months. For now, she is doing awesome and I can only pray that she stays healthy and keeps going in the right direction!  Campbell will be 4 years old in August."

-Written by Trisha Martinez

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Carol Sterling

Carol Sterling began her time as a volunteer for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Ponca City, working with Heart Walk. Over the past few years, Carol became involved in the Go Red for Women campaign through the Passion Committee. Her first opportunity to learn about Advocacy happened when she attended her first Go Red Day at the Capitol event in February 2014, where she spoke to her state lawmakers about the importance of CPR training for High School students.
 
Since then, Carol has been an active member of the You’re the Cure network, and participated in many proclamation ceremonies for Stroke and Heart disease awareness. Carol is a Heart Disease survivor, and enjoys sharing her story with lawmakers because she believes it’s important to put a face to heart disease in Oklahoma.
 
Carol will soon head to Washington D.C. for the 2015 You’re the Cure on the Hill Lobby Day and will meet with members of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation on important issues such as funding for the National Institute of Health and School Nutrition. 

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