American Heart Association - You’re the Cure
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Find the Heart Walk Near You

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association’s premier community event, helping to save lives from heart disease and stroke. More than 300 walks across America raise funds to support valuable health research, education and advocacy programs of the American Heart Association in every state. Our You’re the Cure advocacy movement – and our public policy successes along the way – are all made possible by the funds raised by the Heart Walk. Whether it’s CPR laws passed to train the next generation of lifesavers or policy to regulate tobacco products and prevent youth smoking,  together we are building a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The Heart Walk is truly a community event, celebrating survivors, living healthy, and being physically active. We hope you’ll join us and visit the site today. If there is not a walk listed in your area soon,  it may be coming in the spring season or you can join a virtual event. And don’t forget to connect with your local advocacy staff and ask about your local Heart Walk day-of You’re the Cure plans - they may need your help spreading the word. Thanks for all you do, and happy Heart Walk season.

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August Recess

Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are back in their district offices this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Rae O'Neill at rae.oneill@heart.org or 312-476-6689 as soon as possible.

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Advocate Spotlight: Dr. Karen Larimer

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

My focused, unrelenting desire to see the "healthy choice as the default choice". I strongly believe that evidence-based public policy makes the biggest difference in health.

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

Clean air. Improving the lived environment so that we live in a community where we eliminate tobacco consumption and vaping in ANY place outside the private home.

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

Speaking at the Chicago City Council for expansion of the Clean Air Act in Chicago. I really felt I was contributing to our great American process of Democracy!

What is your favorite way to be active?

Tennis and Sailing.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

No contest....avocado....wait, brussel sprouts...or cauliflower? Too many to choose!!

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Advocate Spotlight: Rae O'Neill

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

My grandfather died of a heart attack when I was five years old. Several years later my mother started working for the American Heart Association. I’ve been volunteering for American Heart Association for as long as I can remember. As a political science major, when my mother told me about the available position in advocacy I jumped at the opportunity. My boss, Mark Peysakhovich, hired me July 14th, 2014 and the rest is history! I can't imagine working anywhere else, the lifesaving work our staff and volunteers do every day is so close to my heart.

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

I’m most passionate about raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 years old. This seems like a no brainer to me, because studies have shown almost 90% of smokers began smoking before the age of 19. If we want to lower the number of lifelong smokers, this is the age group we need to target. By raising the legal purchase age to 21, the Institute of Medicine predicts a 25% percent decrease in smoking prevalence by the time today’s 15-17 year-olds become adults. At this time I would like to shamelessly plug our latest Tobacco 21 action alert, if you haven't taken action on this issue yet there's still time! Please ask your state Representative to support Tobacco 21 legislation in Illinois.

My friends will tell you that I’m also really passionate about lowering the consumption of sugary sweetened beverages. “Do you know how much sugar is in that drink?” is my catchphrase. Hopefully my relentless reminders will help my loved ones make healthy choices that reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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

This is an easy one, my favorite advocacy experience was by far the Illinois State University Day at the Capitol. We bussed in 50 exercise science and kinesiology students, provided an advocacy training, then let them loose at the Statehouse where they told their legislators why we needed to keep the daily physical education requirement in Illinois schools. Not only did a lot of the students stay engaged as volunteers long after the event, but I think the event helped protect the P.E. requirement during a time when it was under fire.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Walking my dog

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Tomatoes

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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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Help Protect PE for Kids Like Me!

Guest post from Reagan Spomer, 6th grader Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board Member & You’re the Cure Advocate

I have two words for you… scooter hockey.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is!  Scooter hockey, along with cage ball and 3-way soccer are some of my favorite activities in gym class, which I have a few times a week.

I’m glad I have physical education for a number of reasons.  It keeps me active and teaches me to try new things.  It helps me focus on my school work.  It relieves my stress.  And most of all, it makes me feel great! 

But I know a lot of schools don’t have regular PE like my schools does.  That means a lot of kids are missing out on the benefits of being active during the school day.  I think this needs to change.   

Will you help?  As part of the nationwide campaign to protect PE in schools, Voices for Healthy Kids has created a photo petition map to show how many people across the country love PE like I do.  As people share their pictures, the map will change colors.  I’ve added my “I heart PE” photo for South Dakota.  Will you do the same for your state?  It’s really easy:

  1. Print an “I heart PE” sign (or make your own!)
  2. Take a picture of yourself holding the sign.
  3. Click on your state to share your photo.

Thanks for helping to protect PE for kids like me!
-Reagan

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Illinois Legislature End of Year Wrap-up

The General Assembly met throughout the Memorial Day weekend, but little progress was made. Budget talks are ongoing with no real indication that an agreement can be reached. The House is scheduled to convene every Wednesday this June. However, this means that several of our policy priorities remain on the table. Below are a few important updates from your Illinois Advocacy Team.

Physical education is being used as a bargaining chip during budget negotiations and continues to face the threat of cuts or elimination.  Please remember to take action on this morning’s You’re the Cure Alert to preserve the daily Physical Education requirement in Illinois; Please remind your lawmakers of the importance of P.E. to our kids and ask that they protect it  

The Sugary Sweetened Beverage tax (or HEAL Act) is still in play and being discussed as part of the larger budget package. It is important that we continue to educate lawmakers about the health benefits, and financial impact, that derive from this initiative. The beverage industry is working hard in opposition but our legislative allies continue to advocate to keep the SSB tax a part of the current budget talks.  You can take action on the SSB tax here: Ask your lawmakers to support the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) proposal as part of the negotiated budget

Senate Bill 3011, the Tobacco 21 legislation, which increases the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 statewide, passed the Senate and is now in the House where it is being sponsored by Representative Sara Feigenholtz. Given the current environment and opposition, this bill was held in committee in order to continue outreach and further educate House members. This is an ongoing effort and we need your help. Please ask your state Representative to support Tobacco 21 legislation in Illinois

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Will you help influence scientific research?

We need to hear from consumers like you as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) partner together on the future of research. Your experience could lead to the next research study to improve heart disease and stroke treatment.

As an advocate we’ve asked you to speak out for increased funding for medical research and you’ve answered by contacting lawmakers and sharing your personal stories as survivors, caregivers, and loved ones touched by heart and stroke disease. Now we invite you to share your experience, the decisions made in determining your or your loved one’s treatment plans and the factors that influenced those decisions. If we better understand your experience it can help guide the research that will lead to better care tailored to the specific needs of patients.

If you’ve had a heart attack, suffered a stroke, or you know a loved one who has, your unique understanding could help guide research to solve un-met care challenges faced by individuals like you and improve heart and stroke treatment.

Here are the details:

  • We are focused on un-met challenges faced by patients and caregivers like you. 
  • To join this challenge, you’ll be asked to provide a written submission of your first-hand experience after a heart disease or stroke event.
  • The story and description of the concerns you faced and the decisions you made should be personal and not a general case.
  • A team of scientific professionals and patient representatives with expertise in heart disease and stroke will review your story. Learning more about issues and concerns important to your decision-making can help them improve experiences and outcomes for patients in the future.
  • If your submission is chosen, you could win $1,000 and possibly help shape the future of cardiovascular research.
  • All submissions must be received by June 8, 2016.

Please take this important challenge and share your insights. Your story matters. Take the challenge today!

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Illinois Advocacy Committee Springfield Meeting

Last week, on May 3rd-4th the Illinois Advocacy Committee held their quarterly meeting in Springfield, Illinois. The two-day meeting started with a tour of Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation, where committee members were shown the latest technology and teaching techniques. The Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation was designed specifically to foster communication, education, collaboration and innovation among the healthcare workforce. Committee members were extremely impressed by the Surgical Skills Center and Simulation Center.

On May 4th, Illinois Advocacy Committee members were briefed on legislative issues including the HEAL Act - a penny per ounce tax applied to sugar sweetened beverages, and Tobacco 21 statewide legislation - an increase in the legal purchasing age of all tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. The group then was sent straight to the Statehouse to talk with their legislators on these issues and drop off petitions from constituents.

Thank you to all our amazing Illinois Advocacy Committee members who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the two-day meeting!

Check out more photos from the event here!

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Advocate Spotlight: Rosemary Jaffe

What is your why?

Being a survivor also means learning how to survive by being your own advocate and advocating for healthcare to help others.

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

After my bypass surgery, I couldn't get past the feeling that I survived for a reason. Advocacy gave me something to fight for.

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

Good health insurance for everyone and more funding for research. I'm very passionate about finding better ways to treat and cure diseases that effect the health of our youth and to teach kids good habits so that they have a future free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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

Being an active member of the Illinois Advocacy Committee has been a wonderful experience. I enjoy our in-person meetings and discussions with people of all different backgrounds from all over the state. It is hard not to leave an Illinois Advocacy Committee meeting not feeling inspired to do more.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Walking

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Berries, green beans, cauliflower and carrots.

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