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Amy Edmunds

Amy Edmunds, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Opening doors has been the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience. Since experiencing ischemic stroke in 2002, I have been an actively engaged volunteer throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Undoubtedly, the first door to open was my own! It has been an amazing transition to evolve from volunteer to spokesperson. But You're the Cure's comprehensive advocacy training helped hone my message and presentation to enable me to comfortably address the Rally for Medical Research last year to urge Congress to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. And, it was a treat to meet with AHA's CEO Nancy Brown and NIH's Executive Director Dr. Francis Collins!

Please, join me at hour 1, minute 15 to hear my message.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For me, You're the Cure has afforded the opportunity to champion issues related to stroke among young adults from a local to national platform. Over the years, I have not only participated in numerous local Heart Walks, HeartBalls, and Go Red For Women events but also statewide lobby initiatives, national taskforces and Lobby Days. And, yes... even to the White House as a briefing attendee.

So, go ahead and open the door to opportunity... for yourself as well as for those you love!

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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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Neal Reynolds

Neal Reynolds, Maryland

Neal Reynolds was never an active advocate until his passion for telemedicine collided with a policy opportunity. As a physician who has spent a lot of time over the years working in hospital intensive care units, he has unique insight into how policy change for telemedicine would save lives. "It's very powerful to work at this level, where you can push for legislation that would change entire systems of care for maximum impact. I am excited about broadening the scope of telemedicine through public policy opportunities, bringing treatment to people who might not otherwise receive it."

Neal (center top in photo) says he was initially intimidated by the legislative process, but AHA staff helped him with what to do and how to approach legislators. When asked how he would counsel other You're the Cure members to prepare themselves for a higher level of advocacy, he offered these words of advice: 

  • Realize you don't have to be afraid of it. Swallow any discomfort, do your homework and you'll do fine.
  • Find someone who knows the ropes, like I did with AHA's Government Relations Director in Maryland, and let them guide you. 
  • Be honest and sincere. Share the passion you have for the issue and make it personal when you talk about it.

Neal wrote letters and provided written testimony to help legislators understand the importance of the telemedicine bills. "The legislators wanted my input, even asked what they could do to help! I wish I'd known about this avenue for change years ago."

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Prep for Upcoming DC Session

The DC Council is gearing up for a busy new calendar year and we have some important work to do! Please join us for a short call January 20 at noon to learn details of our legislative agenda and how you can help.

Our policy agenda includes:

Shared Use of School Property - Support measures to enable the use of school recreation facilities for community physical activity after hours, including funding to incentivize and promote schools as a safe space for community recreation.

Put your two cents in now to tell DC Council to support shared use of school properties!

CPR as a High School Graduation Requirement - Require hands-only CPR training and AED instruction, consistent with American Heart Association guidelines, as a requirement for high school graduation.
 

Tobacco 21 - Raise the minimum legal age for the purchase of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 years.

Tobacco Control Program Funding - Secure sustainable funding for District tobacco prevention and cessation programs that meet or exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Healthy Government Procurement - Enact policies to ensure that all food and beverage served by or purchased by District government meets nutrition standards consistent with those developed by the American Heart Association, or by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Thanks for being active in our network! We couldn't do this without you. If our voice is strong enough this session, we can impact the lives of many Washingtonians for years to come!

Click here to send your customizable letter to support shared use of school property.

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Get Social With Your Members of Congress

Will you be on Facebook or Twitter today? Your Members of Congress and their staff will be, and it's a good place to reach them according to a report released in October by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF).

The CMF report, #SocialCongress, says Congressional offices are listening to social media chatter and it takes relatively few posts or comments to get their attention. That's good news for us!

So, how can you use the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline to get the attention of lawmakers and help pass heart healthy policies?

  • Follow your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials on Twitter. ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ their pages on Facebook.
  • Tweet about our health policy issues, tagging the appropriate legislators by using the @ sign and their Twitter handle. For example: I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’d tag my U.S. Senators by including @SenBobCasey & @SenToomey in my tweet.
  • If they allow it, you can post about our issues directly on the Facebook pages of elected officials. Frequently, that feature is disabled but you are able to comment on their posts. According to #SocialCongress, Congressional offices typically monitor those comments for a limited period of time. Your best bet is to comment within the first 24 hours after a post.
  • Rally your friends and family members to tweet, post or comment about an issue on a single ‘day of action’. CMF’s survey data shows just 30 or fewer comments can be enough to make a legislative office pay attention.
  • Be sure to use the campaign hashtag if one has been created by your advocacy staff partners. The #hashtag allows all the relevant posts to be woven together to tell our story, and makes your post searchable by others interested in the issue.    

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Is Social Media Your Thing?

 

Are you a regular user of Facebook or Twitter?  You don’t know how valuable you could be to our mission! 

You could help us expand our reach and inspire others to help just by sharing our blog posts, online action alerts, and other items related to our mission. 

So easy, but so valuable!!  In just moments - from the comfort of your own home (or wherever!) - you can be helping to drive our mission. 

Us:  Want to get on our list as a dedicated Social Media Advocate? 

You:  Well, what would I actually have to do?

Us: Check our pages a couple times a week and re-share what you find.  Post specific sharing requests sent to you by email whenever you can.  Encourage others to share, and to take action on the posts when it’s appropriate as well.

You:  Oh, that sounds easy.  I can do that, no problem!  Sign me up.

UsYAY, that’s awesome!  Thank you! 

What a simple way to support the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and our You’re the Cure efforts. 

Ready? 
• Virginia, Maryland, and DC peeps email keltcie.delamar@heart.org
• North Carolina and South Carolina peeps email kim.chidester@heart.org

We’ll connect back to provide you the scoop you’ll need to get rolling! 

Know anyone else who might like to help? Share this blogpost with friends and family who are motivated to help us make change happen!

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Frank Amend

Frank Amend, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Frank Amend had never even heard of the American Heart Association before 2003.  That’s when at 41 years old he underwent a heart catherization procedure to have four stents implanted in his coronary arteries.  Frank actually joined the American Heart Association’s advocacy network by a fluke - when another volunteer could not attend national lobby day in Washington, DC, Frank’s cardiologist recommended him.  In 2006 Frank required triple bypass surgery and he has been active in grassroots advocacy ever since.

While starting as a member and then taking increasing senior roles in North Carolina’s grassroots advocacy program, Frank had the opportunity to assist in the development of the state organization’s leadership structure and then help guide the group’s initial efforts.  One of his fondest memories was seeing North Carolina’s passage of House Bill 2, which banned smoking in all restaurants and bars in the state.  Although Frank stated that he came to work on this initiative during its later stages, he praises all the hard work contributed by the different members of the NC Alliance for Health as well as all the entire AHA NC grass roots organization that enabled the bill to be enacted.  In recognition of all his work within the organization, Frank was awarded the American Heart Associations’ National Survivor of the Year Award in 2009.

Although Frank joined the advocacy committee by accident, he hasn’t regretted a single minute.  He cherishes the friendships that he has made along with the important work that he and his fellow advocates have accomplished throughout the years.  Most importantly, Frank enjoys witnessing the passion that people possess while advocating; especially the caregivers of those affected by cardiovascular disease. He feels strongly that volunteers are an integral part of the American Heart Association; as they, the AHA employees, and the medical community all work in synergy to put heart disease in the forefront of public health issues. 

For those affected by heart disease/stroke, Frank encourages everyone to get involved and give back.  He says survivors can have such a positive impact volunteering and making their voices heard about heart disease and its prevention.  In our brief conversation, he stated that: "In my years as an AHA volunteer, I have received so much more in return for the seemingly small, in comparison, effort that I expended.  I’ve spoken at presidential health care task force meetings, was appointed to Governor Purdue’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce, personally lobbied legislators in Raleigh and Washington, DC to further the goals of the AHA, and am currently serving on the Justice Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Taskforce by Governor McCory’s appointment. Me - just a simple guy from Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  With all that though, it’s the relationships with fellow advocates and AHA staff that mean the most to me and my wife.  I have been enriched so much by the interaction with my fellow advocates and look forward to our meetings where we can pool our individual expertise to really make a difference."

Frank is a busy man who, along with all of the above mentioned, also enjoys working in the yard, reading, going to the beach, and traveling with his wife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank and his daughter, Julia.

Advocate interview provided by Blog Contributor Amanda Orfitelli.

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!


On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Anne Efron

Anne Efron, Maryland

Following a long day at work Anne Efron and her husband Dave were getting set to grill for dinner.  After making a quick trip to the store Dave returned to find Anne unconscious and without a pulse, in full cardiac arrest. She had a history of what had been diagnosed as benign cardiac dysrhythmia. Dave, who is Director of Adult Trauma, and Chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, immediately began CPR and dialed 911.  One of the questions that rang in his mind was this: how long had her brain and other organs been without oxygen before he arrived?

Dave continued performing CPR until EMS arrived about 10 minutes later and took over.  Only after transport to St. Joseph’s in Towson, the closest facility, and eight attempts at “shocking” did Anne’s heart resume “normal rhythm.”  Her heart was badly stunned and her condition continued to worsen.  Her medical team determined that the care Anne needed to survive was beyond the scope of St. Josephs. To stabilize her enough to make the trip, the Interventional Cardiologist at St. Joe’s skillfully placed a balloon pump in her heart. 

Once arriving at John’s Hopkins, Anne spent sixteen days in the Coronary Care Unit.  After the extraordinary care of the first responders, the care she received at St. Joe’s and the cutting-edge mechanical support techniques and critical medical care she received in one of the top hospitals in the world, she was able to walk out of the hospital and returned to work just five weeks after her cardiac arrest. 

Anne got involved with the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots network, and advocated actively for a Maryland Bill which would make CPR and defibrillator training a graduation requirement in Maryland public high school.  That bill became law in 2014.   Anne states “CPR is a simple lifesaving skill and one that gives those with this skill a “sense of empowerment.  Learning CPR will save many lives.” 

Click here to Be CPR Smart:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<Thanks to YTC advocate/volunteer writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for helping craft this story>

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Come & Get it: "Hands on Heart" CPR Training for DC Residents

Along with AHA and other partners, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the “Hands on Hearts” initiative on October 27, which aims to train 5,000 District residents in hands-only CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) by September 2016.  

“With the right training, anyone can save a life,” said Mayor Bowser. “That is why the District is committed to training residents in life-saving, hands-only CPR.  A 20 minute training could make the difference between life and death for a friend, family member or stranger who needs care before emergency medical services are able to respond.”

DC Department of Fire & EMS Sgt. Mike Forrest, a You’re the Cure advocate and FEMS CPR Training Coordinator, expressed at the launch event that he is “so excited” about hands-only CPR. “I love this stuff, I just love teaching CPR.” For Forrest, CPR is very personal. Last year, his grandfather went into cardiac arrest, and the person that was with his grandfather didn’t know CPR. Forest wants DC to be the safest place. He envisions a community where “any citizen, passer-by, [visitor] or [traveler] will stop, call 911, and do hands-only CPR.” Forrest emphasized to the mayor and DC Council that “if you don’t get anything else out of the day, just remember that doing good compressions is what’s [going to] save someone’s life.”

Hands-only CPR is a technique promoted by AHA that involves chest compressions without artificial respiration. Studies indicate that hands-only CPR performed immediately can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Following the launch presentation, Sgt. Forrest and his FEMS colleagues provided hands-only CPR training to Mayor Bowser, all 13 members of the DC Council, and other governmental leaders.

In addition to this event, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and his staff recently received CPR training. At the Hands on Hearts launch, he encouraged his fellow Councilmembers to do the same. CM McDuffie chairs the Council’s Judiciary committee, which is considering a bill that would require every school in Washington, DC to have at least 1 AED on site, along with CPR/AED training for certain staff. (View the bill, which AHA recommends be amended to require CPR training for all high school students).

Equipping citizens to save a life makes sense.  As McDuffie said, “…every second matters” during a cardiac arrest.

CPR is an essential life skill, and it saves lives!  Send a quick message to your legislators and tell them to join more than half the country by teaching CPR in DC Schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Council and advocates discuss the need for CPR training

<Special thanks to our DC YTC intern Sydney Nelson for developing this blog post> 

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