American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Laura Ralston

Meet Laura Ralston, Little Rock Grassroots Action Team Member and passionate You're the Cure Advocate!

Name: Laura Ralston

Hometown: North Little Rock, AR

Member, Little Rock Grassroots Action Team

What celebrity, past or present, would you most like to meet and why? Jackie O because of the strength she showed in very difficult situations.

TV show you never miss? Orange is the New Black

Any hidden talents? Cooking, but not sure if that’s a hidden talent.

If a genie gave you three wishes what would you wish for? 1) Health  2) $$  3) Happiness

What book are you currently reading? Outlanders

Can you elaborate on why you have decided to advocate for SmokeFree Little Rock? I want clean indoor air in my Little Rock for the future health of my kids both at home and in my classroom.

Occupation:    3rd grade teacher at Indian Hills Elementary

Kids:  Evatt, 18, Barrett, 13, Lewis Patrick, 11

Pets: Dog - Hershey and Cats – Donovan, Lil Momma, Mersault Jerry

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Meet Dave Oberembt

Please welcome Dave Oberembt to the You're the Cure family! Dave has big shoes to fill as he steps in to the role of Arkansas Government Relations Director, replacing Barbara Kumpe, longtime AHA staffer who recently retired. We wish Barbara well in her next chapter in life, and welcome Dave to the SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy Team!

More about Dave

I am originally from Montana.  I earned my Bachelors of Arts in Political Science at Montana State University.  Upon graduation I enrolled in the Masters of Higher Education program at Montana State University.  After working two legislative session in Montana lobbying on behalf of higher education, I realized my passion was in politics and public policy.  I spent the next 8 years working on various political and policy efforts across the country; including congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections.  I most recently worked on statewide policy initiatives to raise the minimum wage and to pass education reform. I am very excited to join the American Heart Association team and I can't wait to meet everyone.  

Fun Facts

I have visited 46 states. I am missing Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and California. 

My hometown of Miles City, MT was the hometown of golden ticket winner Violet Beauregarde in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie.  It was the only non-fictional hometown in the movie. 

I am the proud owner of the greatest dog in the world, a golden doodle named Phillip T Hawthorne III.  

Want to learn more?

Feel free to reach out to Dave at to learn more about him and to welcome him the SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy Team!

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Advocacy After Hours

You’re the Cure advocates gathered in Little Rock on June 16th for an event reviewing the 2015 Legislative Session. In the audience were researchers from UAMS, the director of the AR SAVES programs, and many other key volunteers. To kick off the event, Barbara Kumpe, the former AR Government Relations Director gave an overview of the regular legislative session, highlighting the Private Option, e-cigarettes, and stroke. Speaker of the House Jeremy Gilliam presented his thoughts on the session, and the Private Option and answered questions form the audience. Afterwards, the group presented him with offline actions around food procurement, emergency systems of care, and smoke free support. To wrap it up, Matt Henry talked about key local policy issues in Fayetteville and Little Rock, like healthy vending. To learn more about AHA's advocacy efforts, please email  

** This article is written by Advocacy Intern Julia Von Alexander

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You're Invited: Advocacy Afterhours in Little Rock

 Advocacy Afterhours in Little Rock

When: Tuesday, June 16th from 5:30 - 7:00 pm

Where: American Heart Association Office - 909 W. Second Street, Little Rock

Why: We will go over outcomes of the 2015 Legislative Session and the Special Session.  Volunteers will have an opportunity to talk to key members of the Legislature on our priorities, including the Private Option, Stroke Center Designations, Heart Attack Systems of Care, Tobacco Prevention and our top priorities for the upcoming 18 months.  

RSVP: Email or call 501-707-6589 

This is a great opportunity to meet and talk with members of the legislature, community leaders and other AHA advocacy volunteers. The Speaker of the House, Jeremy Gillam, will join us as our special guest. Light refreshments will also be served.  We hope to see you there!


Barbara Kumpe

Government Relations Director

Heart Disease and Stroke. You’re the Cure.

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Advocates Turn the Hill Red!

Over 380 advocates met in Washington, DC for You're the Cure on the Hill to step up for heart health. Our group of dedicated advocates met with 293 legislative offices throughout the day to advocate for increased research funding and healthy school meals. Advocates mingled with YTC networkers from throughout the nation and participated in an all day advocacy training and Heroes Luncheon. 

We know that as constituents, you truly make difference when you share your story and encourage our federal lawmakers to take action on critical health priorities. You drive our mission forward in building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. 

Check out a recap video of You're the Cure on the Hill 2015! 

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Announcing our Leading Advocates!

We would like to recognize our Aces, Champion, and Hero advocates for their continued dedication in the fight against heart disease and stroke! Your time, energy, and passion has made all the difference in advancing our mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The below advocates have taken action by responding to action alerts, visiting legislative offices, participating in advocacy trainings, and signing petition cards, just to name a few.

You can find your current ranking on the Community website under your profile. Check out our menu of activities here and see exactly how you can earn more points


Judith Baker
Doris Champ
Marilyn Clark
Holly Cunningham
Steve Day
Carol Dyer
Suzy Fehlig
Vivian Flueckiger
Rhonda Guillotte
Sharon Heflin
Julie Hefner
Monika Hemenway
Vickie Hines
Cindy Hudlow
Jeanne King
Ashley Knight
Barbara Kumpe
Lane Lovett
Wonder Lowe
Michelle Murtha
Bari Nahas
Gina Pharis
Pamm Prebil
Jennifer Pyles
Tammy Quick
Laura Ralston
Kendall Ratcliff
Katie Scherrey
Jenny Shelby
Sandy Simmons
Alexis Sims
Connie Stuart
Joyce Taylor
Robert Thompson
Linda Tredway
Janet Tucker
Kelly Warner
Lloyd Webre
Janice Wiggins
Vickie Wingfield

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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.


  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Watch a video highlighting the award winners below!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.

Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:


  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to to learn more about how you can get involved.




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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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