American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
In-District Meetings - the Golden Window?

Could timing be everything when you want to get your legislator’s attention?  When lawmakers are ‘in Session’ they are flooded with constituent requests about current legislation.  This is when they are on active duty in their General Assemblies or other governing body.  While these advocate efforts can be very effective, it’s often tough for your representatives to really focus and consider your concerns during these timeframes.

If you have the luxury of advance preparation, the golden window to really get top billing in their brains is when they are off Session, or in recess.  That’s when they often return to their District offices, and may have more time to slow down and digest your message.  They are generally more available to the local community, and usually invested in connecting with their constituents. 

It’s an ideal time to introduce new issues, and lay the groundwork for solidifying the deal in the future.

To take advantage of these opportunities, you can watch your state’s calendar on their legislative website, and call ahead to see about booking time for a short chat.  The federal legislature has a standing annual August Recess that presents important opportunities to discuss federal bills, as well. 

This can also be a great time to simply introduce yourself to your representatives, or further a relationship that you’ve already established.  Building those connections when your representatives are not pulled in so many different directions is a smart strategic move, and positions you well for a better reception when there is an active bill you want to promote.  You’ll stand out from the masses who bombard them during Session, and that gives you power as an advocate.

Want to get in on the action for August Recess?  Every year, You’re the Cure advocates visit the District Offices of their congressional representatives when they are home for their break.  Our National team picks a federal issue that needs an extra push, and prepares all the materials needed.  Advocates can either drop off materials, or book a short meeting. 


As always, do let us know when you’ve reached out to your legislators about any You’re the Cure issues. 

Thank you for your efforts!

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If You Build It, They Will Become

How do you get your lawmakers to become allies for our mission and policy efforts?  In truth some may never, but many will if you take the time to employ a few basic strategies to build your relationship with them, and thereby strengthen the power of your constituent voice. 

  • Connect.  Write, call, or visit to introduce yourself and share what’s important to you.  It’s helpful to check their webpage first to see what their platforms and issues are so you can acknowledge overlap.
  • Build your credibility. Prepare to talk about You’re the Cure’s policy issues.  Read our issues alerts and talking points closely and look for where you can draw a personal connection.  Be ready to state why you care.
  • Meet.  Book an appointment specifically to address a policy issue important to you, and share why you have a personal interest.  Be clear about what you want from them in terms of support. Meet their staff as well, be gracious and appreciative of the opportunity to meet with them if your representative is not available, learn their names and titles.
  • Create photo opps.  Take advantage of face-to-face time to get a quick pic with your legislator or their staff and post to social media with our and their hashtags.  They love the exposure - you’ll make a real fan of them.
  • Thank. Always write a quick thank you note after a visit, including meetings with staff.  It seems like a little thing but it helps get you noticed. (Be sure to spell names correctly!)
  • Reconnect.  Check back periodically, and remind them of past interactions.  Repeating your message IS effective – never assume once is enough, even if they have pledged support for the issue.  Look for excuses to connect back with them: 
    • Take a neighbor from the same district to meet them
    • Bring a new data-point on a key issue to the table, or provide an update on the status of a bill
    • Call or write to ask if they have any new concerns about the issue that we may be able to address
    • Call or write to thank them for their yes vote on our issue
    • Share new issues expected on our agenda

Try to connect at least every 4-6 months, and much more frequently when there is an active policy during session that we need action on. 

Be the nicest squeaky wheel they have ever met, and they just may become our ally!  That’s the way to make your personal power as an advocate really count.

We are your partner in this endeavor!  We can help you shape your message, provide the most current fact sheets or updates on policy status, and help craft answers to questions or concerns that are raised. 

By all means, do let us know about the contacts you make specific to our policy issues, and any outcomes from the interaction.  We appreciate your efforts and love to hear from you.

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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. 

• Virginia, Maryland, and DC peeps email
• North Carolina and South Carolina peeps email

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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It's Nice to Share


Sharing is nice, we learned in kindergarten, and here’s where it can really count.  It’s super-easy to share our grassroots network with your friends and family, so their voices can help support CVD legislation too. 

We seriously need to reach the people who understand something about cardiovascular diseases and/or stroke – and, think about it, who do you know who does not have a connection somehow to someone directly impacted?  The people in your social networks care about you, and you can help inspire them to care about our mission.    

Simply post our video on your social media with this text, or something similar of your own:

Please help me build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, through grassroots advocacy.  It’s for us and our loved ones.  Please join and support the cause – I’ll appreciate it personally.  You could easily wind up helping someone you know.  It’s fast, and it’s easy to be an active part of the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network:
















And you know how quickly a post disappears down the queue …please bookmark this and consider re-posting periodically so more of your network has a chance to respond. 

You can also click the Share button that pops up on our website after you’ve taken action on an alert to effortlessly push the message to social media. Every time!

Please don’t think this is not important just because it’s not driving a particular policy.  Our impact as a grassroots network is only as strong as its number of active voices: the people willing to take the time to help drive messages to their legislators. 

Share to help our mission!  This act helps significantly to make our network a force to be reckoned with. 



<Picture credit:>

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Your Special Power Moves Mountains

Do you know about your special power?

Advocacy is the use of your power to influence someone who can give you what you want.  As an American Heart Association You’re the Cure advocate you use the special power of your voice to influence lawmakers, and move mountains for thousands upon thousands by helping pass policies that save lives. 

Check out this quick rundown of the ways your special power can work….
Share your story – Your personal experience inspires others and helps an issue become real to the people you need to influence.  You can share with us here (we won’t publish it without contacting you for permission).

Put it in writing to your legislators – Our online alerts provide a written description of the issue you can simply click to send (or customize first).  Or you can give your voice even more punch by writing your own personal letter and sending via snail mail or email.

Make a call – the same information provided in our alerts serves perfectly as talking points to make a quick call, and often gets a lawmaker’s attention more keenly than a letter. 

Visit your legislator – Whether visiting in their home court (their District office) or on Capitol Hill, an advocate who takes the time to sit down and meet carries clout.  This how-to guide gives you easy steps to make it count.  Just be sure you make an appointment before going, and be willing to meet with a staffer if the legislator is not available.

Harness your network – Talk about us!  Share our alerts on social media after you’ve taken action on the website, forward our emails to your peeps and urge their help too.  Ask your friends, family and colleagues to sign up and add the special power of their voices to helping make change happen.

Write a letter-to-the-editor to educate the public about the policy issue.  See how here!  

Please tell your local Advocacy contact when you do these activities!  Our database tracks when you’ve taken action on an online alert to support the issue, or shared an alert, but these other activities must be self-reported or we’ll have no way of knowing.  Often we can provide talking points or tips to make them easier. 

There is more you can do, too, if you really want to ramp up your power, like writing blog posts for us, working with us to provide testimony or serve as a spokesperson on a policy issue you’re closely connected to, or helping represent us at events to recruit new advocates.  We can provide training to make sure you are prepared to do a good job.

However you choose to help, know that your special power is the real power we need to pass policies that save lives.  You’ve read this far, now resolve to be proactive in making your voice count:  

Help us move mountains! Ask your local American Heart Association advocacy staff for information to get you started.  Tell us how you want to help! 

(Our website can help you learn about AHA/ASA’s key advocacy issues and provide access fact sheets and advocate toolkits.)


<photo: Hunter Paulin, You’re the Cure advocate, shouting out to spread the word!>

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Find Who Cares Like You Do

You care about helping Americans live healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  We know you care because you are a You’re the Cure Advocate, supporting our efforts to change policies that impact this.

But we desperately need more like you – people willing to take simple actions to help drive the messages to legislators.  We’re hoping you know a few you can inspire for us.  Here are a few easy things you could do:

  • Ask your friends and family to be active advocates – they probably care as much as you do, and many will have stories of their own that help them understand how critical our mission is to saving lives. Send them to to join.
  • Forward our emails to your contacts and tell people how important this is to you.  Ask them to help.
  • Use the sharing buttons that appear on the webpage after you’ve taken action on each of our alerts to post to social media and engage your own following to be part of the solution.
  • Know a small (or larger) group you could present to, to invite their participation?  This could be a huge help!  Faith groups, community groups, social clubs, and parents groups are all good places to start. We have tools and materials to make it easy, and you earn credit as an advocate for doing a ‘recruitment event’ for us.  It can be as informal as you like, and we can help prepare you.  Call or email any AHA Advocate Contact in your state to get connected with staff who can help.
  • Hold a House Party to introduce our mission to friends and family, or any group you’re part of, and get them on board.  It’s easy and fun, and a very meaningful way to make sure your own people are part of the network.  See all the scoop on how here
  • Know a company, organization, church, or alliance whose members or employees might care?  All they’d have to do is circulate a quick invitation from us to be part of the cure.  If you have a contact there and can open the door for us to tailor an invitation and get it out to their people, that could be a big recruitment win! 

You can contact us for guidance on any of these, and do be sure to tell us when you’re doing something to help recruit. (Here’s the link again to find AHA contacts in your state.)  It’s important we know how we’re growing our network, and we want to be sure your record reflects your work with us.

Right now we’re working hard to position ourselves for a successful policy session, and need to be sure our advocate network is strong and ready.  Every single voice is needed to make sure the messages are heard by our lawmakers.

Help us find other people who care like you do. It could mean all the difference when the time comes and we have to pull out the stops to help a bill pass.



<photo credit to Eneas on Flickr>  


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Help You're the Cure by Having a Party?!

Huh?!  I can help You’re the Cure by having a party?  You sure can, and it’s fun to do!    

Tupperware might have started the trend, but many since have figured out the beauty of sharing a message with a group of friends to help get something done.  One of the ways we get advocacy done is with ‘house parties.’  

Growing the You’re the Cure network is our how we have power to leverage, to get our bills passed – bills that help people live longer healthier lives.  A house party is a fun way you can pull your friends and family into the fold, helping them understand the importance of our work, and inviting them to help the cause by joining the network.  And unlike Tupperware, it won’t cost them a penny. 

Here’s how simple it can be:

  • Let us know what you want to do so we can provide support! If you don’t already have our contact information, find your AHA advocacy contacts here.  
  • Pick a date and invite your contacts.  Include information about why working with us is important to you.  Many now use online event-planning tools like Eventbrite, to make sending invitation and tracking RSVPs easier than pie.  Facebook is a good distribution vehicle too.  Or maybe phone calls or written invitations are more your cup of tea.  You decide what works best for you.
  • Plan a few healthy snacks….yeah they should be healthy!  You are representing the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, after all.  We have lots of free healthy recipes online, and you can keep it very simple.  
  • At the event, mingle with your guests, have fun, and make a short pitch asking them to join the effort.  We have guides and sign-up sheets you can use to make it easy.
  • Take pics for sharing, and be sure to thank everyone!
  • Let us know how it went, and return sign-ups so we can get them entered in the network!

Here’s what Larry and Karen Calhoun, a North Carolina couple who do house parties annually, say: 

“We do a party for You’re the Cure and the Heart Walk every year, and it’s become something we really look forward to. We cook a heart healthy Cajun meal and thus our team name, the Cardiac Cajuns. The American Heart Association has helped us get organized and given support by providing information and visual displays about YTC, heart disease, and the work of AHA.  We really enjoy getting our friends together and love knowing we’re helping build the grassroots network in the process.”

You can put your own twist on the idea to ‘make it your own.’  We even heard of someone who did a mobile house party, going around to their friends’ houses to do individual sign-ups! 

Host the Ultimate House Party: a party that can save lives!   Will you do one?


 Guests mingle and chat at a 'House Party' at Larry and Karen Calhoun's


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Use the Press to Push Policy Forward







The press influences people.  As You’re the Cure grassroots advocates, we need to influence people.  Put 2 and 2 together, and You’re the Cure advocates can use the press to influence people.  Let’s do it!

Here’s a down and dirty guide to pushing a policy forward through a simple letter-to-the-editor:

  • Gather American Heart Association (AHA) fact sheets on the issue.  (Ask us!)
  • Choose target publication from your area and check their guidelines and word-count limit online.
  • In the first sentence, state the need and why it’s important to the public.
  • In a new paragraph, add two or three sentences about why it’s important to you personally. 
  • In a new paragraph, include a sentence or two with supporting data from our fact sheet(s).
  • Summarize by stating what you want, what readers should do, and/or what legislators should do.
  • Check to be sure you’re within the word-count limit (just the letter itself, not the salutation and signature).
  • If you wish, send to your AHA staff contact so we can provide a little polishing.
  • Once finalized, submit online per their rules, including your full contact information.
  • Connect to tell us you’ve submitted your letter.
  • Watch for publication!  

Note: If you can reference a related recent article from the same publication in your opening it could raise the chances of getting your letter published.

That’s it!  Not complicated, but highly impactful.  Not only can we educate the public about our policy issues this way, but we can reach legislators as well.  They and their staff comb newspapers that serve their districts for relevant content.  You can even name a legislator you want to influence in your letter, so it comes up in their Google searches. 

Would you like to write a letter-to-the-editor on a current You’re the Cure issue in your area?  Ask your local American Heart Association advocacy staff for information to get you started!  


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Chat Up Your Lawmakers Like a Champ







Want to know how to make chatting up your lawmakers really count?  A few simple steps make all the difference in the world, whether it’s in a phone conversation or a face-to-face visit. 

  • Share where you live, so they know they are working for you, their constituent.
  • State the issue or need concisely in just 1 or 2 sentences.
  • Personalize it:  share a 3-4 sentence description about how it affects you, someone you love or work with, and others in the district/state. Don’t be afraid to get sappy!  Sappy helps make it real.
  • Include 1-3 facts to illustrate the need.  Use American Heart Association talking points or information from the American Heart Association website,, so you’re sure the information you are sharing is accurate and science-based.
  • Ask straight-out if they will support the issue.  Then ask why or why not.
  • Offer follow-up for any questions we can help answer.
  • Connect with us right away to let us know about your conversation.

Practice the format above a few times before your call or visit, and it will help you feel comfortable and prepared. 

And remember, our lawmakers are regular people just like you and me, who happen to be elected officials sworn to serve their district. Telling them what their constituents want is simply helping them do their jobs. 


(Pictured: NC You're the Cure Advocate Frank Amend talks with Rep Walter Jones about a pending policy issue.)

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Peak Behind the Scenes: How a Bill Becomes a Law

All that stuff you learned back in school about how a bill becomes law takes on a whole new light when you’re a voting citizen.  So here’s a little refresher on what happens behind the scenes!   

In the United States all of our laws began as bills.  Bills must be approved by the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the President before becoming a law.  Though the steps for getting through each of the chambers are slightly different, the overall basics remain the same. Let’s take a quick journey through the process as if the bill was introduced into the US House of Representatives.

  1. Bill Idea Begins and is Proposed: Bills begin as ideas from a citizen or a representative.  A Representative takes the idea, researches it, and writes it into bill format.  Then a legislator willing to serve as sponsor and find others to support the bill is identified.  Once the bill has a sponsor and support, it’s ready to be introduced to the chamber.
  2. Bill is Introduced: In the House of Representatives, only a representative can introduce a bill.  Once introduced, it’s assigned a number and sent by the Speaker of the House to one of the standing House committees.
  3. Bill Goes to Committee:  In committee, the bill is reviewed, researched, and revised by a group of issue-related experts.  The committee votes to see if it will be sent back to the House floor.  Sometimes, committee members want even more information and the bill can be sent to a subcommittee.  In subcommittee the bill is examined even more closely before being sent back to the committee for a vote.
  4. Bill is Reported, Debated, and Voted on: When a committee has approved a bill, it is sent to the House floor.  During the debate, the reading clerk reads the bill section by section, and the Representatives recommend changes.  When all changes have been made, the bill is ready to be voted on.  Before it can continue on its journey, it must receive a majority of yes votes from the Representatives. 
  5. Bill is Referred to the Senate: When the bill reaches the Senate, it goes through many of the same processes it went through in the house, and must also receive a majority of yes votes before it’s passed on to the President.
  6. Bill is Sent to the President: The President has three choices when a bill reaches his desk.  He can sign and pass the bill, making it law.  He can refuse to sign (veto), and send it back to the US House of Representatives with his reason for veto, where the bill can again be voted on.  In this situation, if two-thirds of the Representatives and Senators support the bill, the President’s veto is overridden and the bill becomes a law.  The third option: the President can do nothing (pocket veto)—if Congress is in session the bill becomes law after 10 days, if Congress is not in session the bill does not become a law.

When a bill has passed through both chambers and is approved by the President (or the veto is overridden), the bill becomes a law!

At every step along the process before the bill is finalized, YOU have the opportunity to influence how your lawmakers vote.  The emails you receive from us make it easy to help drive our bills forward, and your voice is needed on every one of them.

Here’s a little ditty you might even remember from school that sums it up with a beat!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

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