American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Advocacy Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Spring Events

 Advocacy Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Spring Events in Your Area

The Advocacy Department needs 4-6 volunteers for our upcoming Spring 2015 events listed below. 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.

Please let us know if you’re interested or if you know friends and family members that are interested in helping volunteer for this event by contacting Rae O’Neill at

Please include the event name, volunteer’s name, t-shirt size, and cell phone number.

Saturday, April 11th, 2015 
South Central Illinois Heart Walk
Veterans Memorial Park, Mount Vernon, IL
Volunteers needed from 8am to 11am

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 
Most Powerful Voices Gospel Concert
House of Hope, Chicago, IL
Volunteers needed from 4:30pm to 10pm

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 
Springfield Heart Walk
Southwind Park – Hope’s Pavilion
Volunteers needed from 8:30am to 12pm

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 
Quad Cities Heart Walk
The District of Rock Island
Volunteers needed from 8am to 11am  

Saturday, May 30th, 2015 
Northern Illinois Heart Walk
Rock Valley College
Volunteers needed from 8am to 12pm

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Conference of Illinois Legislators Go Red for Women Event at the Statehouse

You’re the Cure advocates in Illinois kicked off American Heart Month and the 2015 legislative session with our annual Conference of Women Legislators Go Red event at the Capitol on February 4th. Advocates, lawmakers and staff wore their best red and posed for pictures to promote awareness for heart disease and stroke. Even the state’s first lady, Mrs. Diana Rauner, stopped by to show her support for raising awareness to fight heart disease and stroke in Illinois.


To see more pictures from the event:

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Share Your Story: Buffy Mckinney

Buffy McKinney O Fallon, IL

There was never any heart disease in my family. That all changed on August 12, 2010 when my first grandson, Brody, was born with a congenital heart defect called ASD/VSD.

The thought was that the holes would eventually close themselves so they released him from the hospital. Two weeks after releasing him my daughter and husband were at lunch and my husband noticed that Brody was turning blue and not breathing. God saw fit that day to have EMT's that were just leaving after their lunch who performed CPR and rushed him to the hospital where he spent the next 2 and a half months of his life. During that time it was determined that the hole in the bottom part of his walnut sized heart was as large as a nickel and if they did not perform open heart surgery to close the hole he would not survive another month. Thanks to research and his knowledgeable doctors he is now a healthy, terrorizing toddler.

I have worked for the AHA for over 5 years now and early in my career I loved my job because of the wonderful volunteers and survivors that I got to work with. This experience has given a new meaning to my job and the importance of medical research to people every day.

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Meet the New Surgeon General

Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December to serve as the next surgeon general of the United States. The surgeon general is America’s top public health official, and his responsibilities range from managing disease to promoting prevention and a healthy start for our kids.

At 37, Vivek Murthy is the youngest person and the first Indian-American to hold the post of Surgeon General.

Since this position was created in 1871, just 18 people have held the job. Dr. Murthy, the 19th, replaces an Acting Surgeon General who has filled the role since 2013. Dr. Murthy’s confirmation was delayed for nearly a year due to political issues, but in that time he received the endorsement of more than 100 public health groups, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Murthy has both business and medical degrees from his studies at Harvard and Yale. He completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he most recently served as an attending physician. He has created and led organizations to support comprehensive healthcare reform, to improve clinical trials so new drugs can be made available more quickly and safely, and to combat HIV/AIDS.

His resume is remarkable, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy to improve the health of all Americans.

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Share Your Story: Brooke Maynard

Brooke Maynard Springfield, IL

November 20th, 2009, should have been the best day of my life. Instead it turned out to be the best and worst day of my life. This is the day I gave birth to my beautiful daughter.  I was talking to my mother about my contractions during labor and the next thing I know my life changed in a blink of an eye.

I had several doctors and nurses rush into my room poking at me with needles and x-ray machines because my blood pressure and heart rate became dangerously high.  My OBGYN told me he had to emergency cesarean to get my baby out so I would survive. I was rushed away for surgery and after my daughter was born I found out I went into congestive heart failure during labor and was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy.

A cardiologist came into my ICU room where I was taken after the cesarean and told me that if I go on a low-sodium diet, complete cardiac rehab all within six months I should be able to live a normal healthy life. During those six months of trying to recover I was in and out of the emergency room, the cardiac ward at the hospital, and had several episodes where my blood pressure was too low from my medication that I couldn't even get out of bed.  Since I was getting worse and not getting better my cardiologist told me I will be on medication the rest of my life, and I no longer will be able to carry another child due to the weakness of my heart. Today, I am a passionate survivor and a fighter of the No. 1 killer in women, heart disease.

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Prep Yourself for the IL Legislative Session!

Our elected officials will returned to Springfield this week, we are off and running in the advocacy department on a new legislative session as well!
Before we jump right in and ask you to make those important phone calls and send those urgent emails to the legislature, here is a quick rundown of the issues we're going to be focusing on this legislative session.

· Prevent and Reduce ObesityHealthy Eating Active Living Act: Reducing the Consumption of Sugar Sweetened Beverages

  • Secure a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and ensure that a portion of the state revenue generated by the tax is dedicated to health, obesity prevention and Medicaid funding.

· Prevent and Reduce ObesityProtect P.E. in Illinois Schools and Implementation of P.E. in Chicago Public Schools

  • Protect IL’s strong elementary and secondary school P.E. mandate from expected attacks and ensure the implementation of daily P.E. in Chicago Public Schools.

· Tobacco ControlProtect the Illinois Smoke-Free Air Act

  • Prevent any rollback of existing Smoke Free IL protections, notably in casinos and taverns.

· Systems of CareStatewide STEMI System of Care

  • Establish STEMI Systems of Care in line with the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline Campaign via statewide legislation and work to secure state funding to assist local communities in purchasing automated external defibrillators, 12-lead EKGs, ambulances and other critical EMS equipment and infrastructure.

· System of CareRebuild Illinois’ EMS System

  • Rebuild Illinois’s EMS system by securing a stable, dedicated funding source for EMS and pursue an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates for EMS providers.

· Acute Cardiovascular CareLauren’s Law Implementation

  • Ensure the implementation of Lauren’s Law requiring all high school students to learn CPR prior to high school graduation.

Sounds pretty ambitious, doesn't it? The American Heart Association believes that everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. That is our why. As always, we're going to need your help to be successful with these policy priorities, so as you look at the list above, ask yourself which of the issues fits in with your why.
Whatever the reason, if you’d like to get more involved and work hand-in-hand with us on any of these issues, please send me an email ( or drop me a line (414-227-1410) anytime!


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Have a Story? Share It with Us!

Sharing your own personal story is the most effective way to advocate for healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke!  As you have noticed, the You’re the Cure community site now features pictures and stories of real advocates – people like you whose lives have been impacted by cardiovascular disease.  Please take a moment to share your story with us and we will feature you on our site and in an upcoming newsletter.

We would love to feature your story on our website and in this monthly newsletter. It's easy to do! Here are the three steps to sharing your story:

1.  The story.  We will have room for a short paragraph (600 words).  There is no story too small and everyone is welcome to submit their experience.  We want you to make your story grabs the attention of people who come to the site.  Be passionate.  Explain how your experience has impacted your life and why you are committed to helping us advocate.  You also don’t need to be a heart or stroke disease survivor to share your story.  Tell us about what you are doing in your community to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Please share your story here on the website.  

2.  A picture.  Yes, we’ll need your best photo we can post so that everyone will see that there is a real person behind the story.  Electronic photos only please. Photos should be horizontal or landscape for the best fit.

3. Your permission.  This is the boring part.  If you’d like to be featured on the website, we’ll need you to fill-out and return the permission form.

Send your photo and permission form to:
    Anne Simaytis
    Regional Grassroots Advocacy Director
    FAX: 414-271-3299

Questions?  Give me a call at 414-227-1410 or email me your questions.

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My Story: Michele Beck

Michele Beck Glen Ellyn, IL

When I was 33 years old, I went to see my doctor and told her that I had pains in my chest and shortness of breath. I am a petite woman and was thin and young. Therefore, my doctor didn't run one heart test. I continued to see her off and on for one more year. Then at the age of 34 I had a heart attack. I called the paramedics and they came to my house and told me I was having an anxiety attack. They graciously took me to the hospital where I had another heart attack in the ER. Since that date I have two stents placed in my heart. The medications I take are not made for a woman who ages and changes. Research is needed badly so that it can keep up with the changes a women's body goes through. I am thankful to be alive, I pray to live so I can see my grandchildren grow up. Research will increase my chance of reaching an old age. Without research my daughters and granddaughters will all suffer the same fate in life that I have suffered.

Thanks to Go Red For Women, I learned the value of Hands-Only CPR and in July of 2011, I used it on my husband who died of a sudden cardiac death and is alive and sitting next to me today as I type. This is the value of research and knowing CPR.  I recently had the opportunity to attend You're the Cure On the Hill, AHA's national lobby day and advocate for research funding and share my story with my lawmakers.  I am blessed by all of the people I met at the event and pray with my husband Gary that heart disease and stroke lessen each year and the million hearts we save grow up to each save a million more.

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You're the Cure Year End Successes, Let's Celebrate!
It was another banner year for You’re the Cure advocates championing heart and stroke policy change across the country. Year end is a time to look back at what we achieved in states, think ahead to the work still to do, and celebrate the power of volunteers.
What did we accomplish last year?
Below are just three of many victories that made 2014 so successful.  


  • 35 states now have laws protecting our littlest hearts. Pulse oximetry, a simple detection screening for heart defects gives newborns a chance to survive thanks to early detection.
  • We reached a major milestone in ensuring all students learn CPR before graduating from high school. Now more than 1 million students, in 20 states, will graduate each year with this lifesaving skill.
  • 6 states increased funding for heart disease and stroke prevention programs.


Want to see more accomplishments? Check out the video below.

These are just a few highlights and for the full story be sure to check out the state by state wrap-up online. We couldn’t achieve these great accomplishments without the power of YOU our advocates. Your work to educate lawmakers, recruit family and friends, and share your story and expertise are what makes change happen. So from your AHA staff partners a big, Thank You!
P.S. – You can help inspire others to join the movement by sharing our accomplishments highlight video.

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My Story: Jimmy Leiter

Jimmy Leiter Deerfield, IL

I was getting ready to play football during my senior year of high school.  I had to see my family doctor to get my physical done, and because of a heart murmur and some other heart issues from when I was younger, the doctor insisted I get an echo. He told me that he wouldn't sign-off on my physical until I got an echo done. After a few tests they determined I have a serious heart defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy also known as HCM. So I was put on major physical restrictions which included no football. I decided to get another opinion done, at the children's hospital in Chicago just before my 18th birthday.  I had a bunch of tests done including an EKG, echo, stress test, and my least favorite, a heart MRI. And unfortunately the first doctor was right, I have HCM. I was so heart broken and very upset. My mother was in shock.   She had told the doctor that I had no symptoms and the doctor looked my mother right in her eyes and said the only symptom is dropping dead. I had to quit football which was the hardest thing to do, but my coach didn't let me go that easy.  He decided to make me team manager. I accepted the offer and even though I couldn't play, I could help. It wasn't easy sitting on the sidelines watching the others play, but I did know that God had a reason for it all.

Over the next couple of months I started getting really depressed because of not being able to do much of anything, I felt as I was on house arrest, but worse one wrong move could kill me. After high school I decided to follow my other dream of being a computer tech, since I couldn't do college ball or the military. So I attended Robert Morris University and finished my Associate’s within degree within two years.  I had a great job, but still had the bad heart. After some time and more life transitions, I had started noticed some major physical changes. I was getting shortness of breath, tiredness, and dizziness. My doctor ordered more tests, and this time the stress test had found that when my heart is under a lot of stress I have ton of blockage.  So they decided to sign me up to receive a defibrillator.  But after talking with the specialist for my defibrillator and telling her about some other symptoms I was having, she had mentioned it to my doctor and again more test were ordered.  It was determined that I needed to have open heart surgery to remove some of the muscle off the heart. I was devastated by the news and broke down.  I was completely scared out of my mind. This surgery wasn't rare, but it still one that is pretty risky. After a month of waiting for surgery day, I had said all my good-byes and see you on the other sides. The first surgery lasted for eight hours, followed by three hours for the defibrillator placement.  When I woke-up, I was in ICU and the doctor said everything went as according to plan. After spending just under a week in the hospital and being able to see and touch the Stanley Cup thanks to Coach Q and the Blackhawks, I was out and heading home.

The weeks that followed the surgery were not always easy. There were days were I felt as I could take on the world and then days were I felt as I was hit by a train. After a lot of prayer and advice I decided to go back to school, my doctor was very shocked that I "recovered" within three months of having the surgery, but the battle only was beginning. I had a rough start at school, but once I signed up for tutoring and got a new job at a local athletic club, I was able to drop 80 percent of my stress AND got myself in better health. By working at this health club for about four months I already had lost over 20 pounds and my blood pressure is better than ever.  My self-esteem is also better than it has been in years. People look at me and wouldn't even guess I had open-heart surgery because of how active I am active as well as the joy I have in my heart. And it is all because of one little angel, my doctor, telling me to get checked up and that checkup it ended up saving my life.

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