American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Advocate Spotlight: JR Dietl

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

In 1969 my father suffered a cardiac arrest and nobody was able to perform CPR on him. I was devastated. After becoming an EMT/Paramedic in Iowa I wanted to help so that other kids my age at the time would not have to go through what I did. I found out about the American Heart Association and I was hooked! I couldn’t wait to get involved! I started working with the American Heart Association in Iowa in 1977 as an EMT/Paramedic. I then transferred to American Heart Association in Tulsa Oklahoma by teaching, advocating as well as being hired by the AHA to repair the CPR equipment belonging to the American Heart Association. In 2001 I continued my association with them when I moved to Illinois, where I worked with the Lt. Governors committee to help pass legislation on requiring AED's and CPR in Schools and Health facilities in the state of Illinois. I worked for several years representing AHA at the Illinois State Fair in promoting CPR and AED's in the Lt. Governor's booth. In 2004 I started a Training Center in Illinois and have over 525 Instructors teaching Basic Life Support in schools and organizations in a multi-state region. Today I currently serve on the Illinois Advocacy Committee along with a few other AHA committees

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

My most passionate issue is getting awareness out about how easy it is to perform CPR and use an AED and make people generally aware of that. I currently believe that CPR should be taught in the schools just like reading and writing. I truly believe that most people are unaware of how many heart attacks or cardiac arrest truly occur in the United States and how important it is to get basic life support started before professional help can respond.

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

Being asked by Mark Peysakhovich if I would like to serve on the Illinois Advocacy Committee. I really believe that people that serve on this committee come from a wide range of experience and are able to offer good recommendation’s on various topics that will make a difference in the lives of Illinoisan’s. I also found a great experience this last summer when the committee met in Springfield for a two day seminar that generated a tremendous amount of positive results

What is your favorite way to be active?

Being at public events raising awareness on AHA topics or meeting with state legislators and educating them to see the priorities that AHA advocates for.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Strawberries’ and Asparagus

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Advocacy Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Events!

Advocacy Volunteers Needed
for Upcoming Heart Walks in Your Area

The Advocacy department needs 3-4 volunteers for each of the upcoming 2015 Illinois Heart Walks. Be our hero by taking action in your community AND earn points which will allow you to move up in the You’re the Cure ranks! We will need help throughout the day working at the advocacy information table, collecting petition cards and recruiting new advocates for the You’re the Cure network. All volunteers will receive a You’re the Cure t-shirt.

To volunteer click here to register! If you have any questions please contact Rae O’Neill at

You’re the Cure Recruitment Opportunities (5 points each)

Saturday, September 12th, 2015 
McHenry Heart Walk

Sage YMCA of Metro Chicago
Volunteers needed from 3:45pm to 7pm

Saturday, September 19th, 2015 
McLean County Heart Walk

Uptown Normal - Circle
Volunteers needed from 7:45am-11am

Friday, September 25th, 2015 
Downtown Chicago Heart Walk

Soldier Field - South Lot
Volunteers needed from 10:45am to 1pm

Saturday, September 26th, 2015 
Oak Brook Heart Walk

Oak Brook Sports Core
Volunteers needed from 7:45am to 11am  

Saturday, September 26th, 2015 
Champaign Heart Walk

Porter Family Park
Volunteers needed from 8:15am to 1pm


Saturday, September 26th, 2015 
Tri-County Peoria Heart & Stroke Walk

The Shoppes at Grand Prairie
Time: TBD


Sunday, September 27th, 2015 
Palos Hills Heart Walk

Moraine Valley Community College
Volunteers needed from 7:45am to 11am


Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 
Lake County Illinois Heart Walk

Conway Park
Volunteers needed from 7:45am to 11am


Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 
Southern Illinois Heart Walk

John A. Logan College
Volunteers needed from 7:45am to 11am


Saturday, October 24th, 2015 
Macon County Heart Walk

Location: TBD
Time: TBD


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August Recess Visit: Congressman Randy Hultgren

You're the Cure hero, Heather Gavras is puzzled why some Members of Congress are trying to roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals. On August 4th, she stopped by Congressman Randy Hultgren's office to deliver a special puzzle, which shows that nutritious foods "fit" into a successful school day for every child. Heather urged the Congressman to reauthorize the Heathy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, in order to protect the progress made since the law was enacted in 2010. Since passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, kids are eating 16% more vegetables and 23% more fruit. It is vital that we protect the nutrition standards that are helping give our children the longer, healthier futures they deserve, by supporting the reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Thank you Heather for delivering this important message!

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Have you checked out the AHA store lately?

T-shirts, measuring bowls, jewelry and everything in between. This summer you can “Shop Heart” choose the best of AHA swag like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories.

You can help spread our message of heart health when you wear an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. In addition to great gear we also stock educational materials so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with family and friends. Best of all when you "Shop Heart" money spent supports the mission of the American Heart Association.

Check out the latest merchandise in the store and show your support for the AHA today. 

P.S.  – There is a limited edition You’re the Cure T-shirt in the store. But hurry, only a couple dozen remain!







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Illinois Legislative Year End Wrap-up

As we close the books on the American Heart Association’s fiscal year and inch closer to the end of the General Assembly’s 2015 overtime legislative session. Let’s take a look back at the progress we’ve made on systems of care in Illinois. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s plenty left to do and we’ll need your help.

Stroke System of Care

On August 18th Governor Quinn signed landmark stroke legislation. Currently, we are on track to have the final Administrative Rules for the 2014 stroke law approved by this fall. The rules will allow for the state designation of Comprehensive Stroke Centers and Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals, as well as the creation of a state stroke registry. 

Lauren’s Law: CPR in Schools

Efforts to implement the 2014 Lauren Laman CPR and AED training law have also progressed. We continue to work with the IL State Board of Education on their promised, though not yet released, Advisory Document to help ensure schools comply with the new law. 

STEMI Heart Attack Legislation: HB 4121

This legislation is on hold in the House pending further negotiations, we hope to move forward soon as this fall during the annual legislative veto session. 

Strengthening Illinois EMS

We have continued our work with the Illinois EMS Alliance to help fight potentially devastating cuts to the EMS Medicaid reimbursement rate. These cuts would put emergency medical care for heart attack and stroke patients at further risk.

Physical Education

There were numerous threats to Illinois’ daily physical education requirement this year. But, because of our strong network of advocates we were able to stop each attempt! There were four bills that threatened the health of Illinois’ kids, including; allowing waivers for students who enroll in AP classes and proposing to eliminate physical education completely. We won another battle on the P.E. front, but will continue to need your voices to fight and protect the long-term health of all Illinois kids. .

Tobacco Control Policies

This year we worked hard to defend Illinois’ Comprehensive Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law from drastic changes. Thanks to our advocates and strong partner organizations, we were able to keep the law intact. Additionally, we worked to support the IL Smoke Free Campus Act which took effect on July 1, making all state campuses smoke free!

HEAL Act: Sugary Drinks Tax

With the legislature in overtime and no budget in sight, our proposed penny-per-ounce sugary drinks tax is still in play as a popular way to raise revenue for the state, restore Medicaid funding and help fund health programs. According to a recent public opinion poll, 65 percent of Illinois voters support a proposal to enact a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and to use the proceeds to improve Illinoisans’ health. The voters of Illinois are willing to pay a tax on sugary drinks in order to curb obesity-related chronic illnesses. This would be a BIG WIN for health and a HUGE LOSS for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. These chronic diseases cost Illinoisans over $6 billion a year in unnecessary health care costs. A penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax is expected to generate more than $600 million dollars a year. These dollars could be used t in communities across the state to expand opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity and restoring Medicaid.

There are many ways you can lend your voice to this campaign TODAY! Please take a minute and complete each action:

1. Sign our petition here:

2. Call key legislators or the Governor and ask them to support the sugary drink tax. Dial 844-325-5900 and you will be connected with the key lawmakers or governor to express your support for the tax!

You can stay up-to-date on the campaign by visiting


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Meet Illinois Advocacy Staff: Julie Mirostaw

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

I have worked in the advocacy, okay lobbying, arena for almost ten years. I want to put the skills I have acquired and my experiences to use for an organization whose mission is to save lives and make the world a healthier place. I hope to be a part of the solution.

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

Access to quality health care for everyone is a top priority for me. Unfortunately, we live in a society where there are barriers, geographically, economically or otherwise, to quality health care. Whether it is making sure a heart attack patient in a rural area has access to the best care possible or educating kids about ways to eat healthy and stay active, everyone deserves equal access to care. I have seen first-hand the effect that access can have on a person, it can be life-changing and life-saving.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far with the American Heart Association and what made it great?

Since I just started with the AHA, I will refer to a past experience. One in particular comes to mind. I worked with Illinois Unites for Marriage, the umbrella organization for gay marriage, in the months leading up to the vote in Springfield. One day, after an event, I was walking home wearing an Illinois Unites for Marriage t-shirt. Several strangers walked up to me on the street to thank me for my support. The legislation hadn’t passed yet and these people had no idea who I was or what I did only that I was a supporter, and that meant a lot to them.

What is your favorite way to be active?


What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Fruit: Bananas, raspberries, pineapple

Vegetable: Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus

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Go Red for Women Community Expo

On Friday, May 29th, Illinois Advocates asked the crowd at the Go Red For Women Community Expo to support the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. These amazing You're the Cure volunteers collected over 300 petitions in support of healthy school meals. This free event included heart-health screenings and consultations; exercise, cooking and CPR classes; healthcare panel discussions; and valuable take-home resources.

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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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Illinois Advocates Traveled to D.C. for National Lobby Day!

On May 11 and 12, the Midwest Affiliate joined more than 380 advocates in Washington D.C. for You’re the Cure on the Hill national lobby day. We had 53 volunteers 10 of which were youth advocates, 20 staff representing all 11 states in the affiliate who stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. We had 13 volunteers representing Team Illinois: Lisa Bartlett, Bob Biggins, Lynne Braun, Danielle Cortes Devito, JR Dietl, Kirk Disrude, Angela, Donnie and Madison Feick, Karen Larimer, Scott Saxe, Brian Shields, and Carrie Skogsberg. In all, the entire event conducted 293 meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards, and also to make cardiovascular disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health. We were able to meet with staff and several Members of Congress throughout the day. Team Illinois meet with Senator Mark Kirk, stroke survivor for more 30 minutes to talk about the importance of research funding as it relates to stroke and stroke rehabilitation. The Midwest Affiliate made a huge impact in D.C. in just two days, but the fight isn’t over. You can support our work by contacting your own Members of Congress here.

Check out more photos from this great event!

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The Go Red For Women Community Expo

American Heart Association | American Stroke Association


The Go Red For Women Community Expo

Union Station’s Great Hall

500 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago

Friday, May 29th

8:30 am to 2 pm

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, killing one woman every minute. An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease, and it is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. But with the right information, education and care, heart disease in women can be treated, prevented and even ended.

We invite you to join us for the 4th annual Go Red For Women Community Expo on Friday, May 29th at the Great Hall in Union Station from 8:30 am to 2 pm! This free event will include heart-health screenings and consultations; exercise, cooking and CPR classes; healthcare panel discussions; and valuable take-home resources.

Register at (under "Events").

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