American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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My Life is Why!

Meet AHA volunteer, Angie Chafos!

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

In 2010, I survived a heart attack. My left anterior descending artery was 100 percent blocked. When I experienced a very sharp pain from the front of my chest to my back, I realized this was critical, took two aspirin and rushed to the hospital. Time is muscle.

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

Awareness and education about heart disease is valuable. Everyone should be knowledgeable about heart disease because more people die from heart disease than any other disease. Recognizing symptoms, screening to manage heart related numbers, eating better and exercising are essential elements to living a heart healthy lifestyle for optimum health and living LIFE! I have been a AHA Neighborhood Volunteer for many years to get the word out about research and heart health information.

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

Before my heart attack, I had never been on an exercise program. Through cardiac rehabilitation therapy, I learned how to use the treadmill and other exercise equipment as well as learning tai chi and yoga. My best friend is my pedometer which is always on my body enforcing my goal to reach 10,000 steps. Having professionals teaching me how to exercise and encouraging me to exercise to be heart healthy was a valuable life lesson.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Walking is the easiest form of exercise and requires no special equipment except for a good pair of walking shoes. I walk for causes and fundraising events with groups of people, thereby helping others with others while getting in my 10,000 steps.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Beets have always been my favorite vegetables, and oranges my favorite fruit.


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MN STEMI System of Care Signed into Law!

On Friday April 29, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law HF2613 – to launch an official Minnesota STEMI System of Care and prioritize the highest quality treatment for anyone who suffers a heart attack, regardless of where they live in Minnesota! The new legislation authorizes the MN Department of Health to designate nationally accredited STEMI Receiving Centers and requires all EMS services in the state to have current triage and transport protocols for STEMI Patients! As a result of this success the state’s 5.4+ million residents, including those 8,000+ individuals who suffer a STEMI each year, will now be covered by a stronger statewide STEMI system of care.

This effort started 3 years ago when AHA MN launched its Mission:Lifeline (M:L) Grant program statewide and has relied on continued involvement from M:L  volunteers the entire way. Our partners in rural hospitals and rural EMS services were critically important to the continued pressure for the state to put policy in place to sustain the work of the M:L program.

Building on the continued success of the MN Stroke System, the MN STEMI legislation keeps the progress moving in MN to make sure that anyone who suffers a time critical medical event can receive the best possible treatment no matter where they are in the great state of MN!!

Pic #1= Rep. Roz Peterson (R-Burnsville), our chief author presents the STEMI Bill on the house floor for final passage.

Pic #2=M:L Chair Richard Mulvain testifies in the MN House HHS Committee on the importance of a STEMI System.

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Good Food Access Fund is Ready to Take on MN's Healthy Food Access Problem!

More than 340,000 Minnesotans face both distance and income as a barrier to obtaining healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meats and poultry.1 This problem is only worsening with 61% of Minnesota counties losing grocery stores since 2007.2 Limited access to healthy, affordable foods results in disproportionately higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related health problems.3 It is also one of the key contributing factors to the health disparities that currently exist in Minnesota among many communities of color.4

Last fall, the American Heart Association and the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition obtained a Voices for Healthy Kids grant to create a healthy food financing policy solution to address this state-wide problem. We knew that such programs in other states were successful where grocery stores were reopened in low access areas, improving good food access and revitalizing local economies. 

In true Minnesotan fashion, we decided to do things a little differently. Based on feedback garnered during our ongoing community engagement and in accordance with the Minnesota Food Charter, we knew that solely reopening grocery stores would not be the answer. Working with partners across health, food insecurity, agriculture, and community-investment interests, we proposed the Good Food Access Fund which would be established and funded by the Minnesota Legislature. It would provide grants, low-cost loans, and technical support for food-related enterprises in areas of the state where people don’t have the ability to choose healthy, affordable foods. Those enterprises could include new or enhanced grocery stores, mobile markets and farmers’ markets, fresh food refrigeration, and other innovative community-driven solutions. 

We introduced the Good Food Access Fund bill at the beginning of the Minnesota legislative session in early March. We expected this to be an introduction/education year for the Good Food Access Fund – but WOW!!! Thanks to our amazing chief bill authors, Senator Dan Sparks and Representative Rod Hamilton, and the work of all our partners, the bill got so much more attention and support than we anticipated. The bill went on a whirlwind tour of 6 committee hearings in 6 weeks!  The last of the hearings, was before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Equity, a new committee that represents the first time the legislature has taken a serious look at addressing racial disparities. The Subcommittee included our bill in their budget recommendations and appropriated $5 million in one-time funding!! This is far from the finish line and a final win is still a long ways away with many hurdles – but this is a HUGE accomplishment! The next few weeks of the legislative session will tell whether this $5 million appropriation becomes a reality. 

Our success this year really speaks to how relevant and important the issue of food access is in Minnesota; it crosses partisan and geographic divides. It’s not just an economic issue, it’s a health and equity issue as well. We have sent the message that improving food access is a priority in Minnesota! Thanks to all of the YTC members who have responded to our Action Alerts! We look forward to your continued support as we move forward! Please like and follow the campaign on Facebook for more information!


[1] Mattessich, P. & Rausch, E. (2016).Healthy food access: A view of the landscape in Minnesota and lessons learned from healthy food financing initiatives. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and Wilder Research.

2 Center for Rural Policy and Development. Grocery Stores by the Number. Mankato, MN 2014.

3 Manon, M. & Kim, E. (2012).Food for every child: The need for more supermarkets in Minnesota. The Food Trust. 


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Upcoming Minnesota Advocacy Opportunities - Volunteers Needed!

Calling all survivors, caregivers, advocates, donors and volunteers! We have a few volunteer opportunities coming up in the next couple of months! Check them out below and contact Jess Nolan if you can help!

Transportation Forward Action Nights
Various dates in April 2016
Sierra Club, 2327 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
The legislature is in full swing and we need your help! We'll be reaching out to supporters to invite them to call their legislators. It's a fun easy way to make a difference! Training will be provided.
Click here to sign up!

Mankato Go Red for Women Luncheon
May 5th, 2016
Country Inn & Suites, Mankato, MN
We are looking for one volunteer to collect petition cards and recruit new advocates to our network. The volunteer will be needed from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM.

Twin Cities Heart Walk
May 14th, 2016
The Advocacy Department needs 6-8 volunteers for our upcoming Twin Cities Heart Walk on Saturday, May 14th, 2016 at Target Field. We will need help from 6:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. working at the advocacy information table, collecting petition cards and recruiting new advocates to our network. All volunteers will be dismissed in time to participate in the opening ceremonies and the walk that morning. All volunteers will receive a You’re the Cure t-shirt.

Most Powerful Voices Health Fair and Concert
May 21st, 2016
Shiloh Temple, Minneapolis
Two volunteers are needed from 12:00 - 2:30 PM for the advocacy table at the Most Power Voices Health Fair. Volunteers will be dismissed in time for the concert starting at 3:00 PM.

Please let us know if you and your friends and family can help at this event by contacting Jess Nolan at including the event name, and the names of those willing to volunteer.


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Education is Why!

Meet one of the MN State Advocacy Committee members, Andy Iverson.


What is your Why?

Education. There is so much we can do to live healthier lives as individuals and as a society the most people just aren’t aware of. The American Heart Association does a great job informing the community and legislators about the small and big steps we can take towards healthier lives.

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

I had been volunteering as a Heart and Stroke Ambassador group and started hearing about all of the great work the Advocacy Committee was doing. They had just successfully advocated for teaching CPR in schools and testing newborn babies for congenital heart diseases and I thought wow this group really makes a huge difference, I want to be a part of that!

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

I’m most passionate about issues that have to do with children. The AHA does a great job advocating for all children to have an opportunity to be healthy. It doesn’t seem right to me that a child doesn’t have a safe route to walk to school, access to healthy and nutritious food, or opportunities to be active.

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

My favorite advocacy experience was my first Heart on the Hill. I had never been to the State Capital, lobbied, or even met with my representatives so I was a little nervous. The AHA staff members did a great job making sure that all of the advocates like me who were probably a little nervous had the confidence and knowledge to speak to the issues and the positive impact new policies could have on communities in Minnesota.

What is your favorite way to be active?

I love to be outdoors. I play soccer, go running, and take trips up to the Boundary Waters.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

My favorite vegetable is brussel sprouts.

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The 2nd Annual Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day was a Success!

The 2nd Annual Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day was held on March 16th, and it was a huge success! Thank you to all the volunteers, staff and attendees who made this event happen! There were nearly 300 attendees who received excellent training throughout the morning program then met with 132 state legislators (!) in the afternoon to lobby for kids' health  for Phy Ed standards and Safe Routes to School funding. We had over 40 students and chaperones from the Rochester and White Bear Lake/Irondale schools who showed their support as well!

During the morning training Senator Melisa Franzen spoke about the importance of Safe Routes to School. Represenative Kim Norton was given a lifetime achievment award for being a champion of children's health!

Attendees also dropped packets off at the offices of all 201 legislators and Governor that included petition cards in support of Physical Education and Safe Routes to School.

Our virtual lobby day action alert sent an additional 205 messages to lawmakers during the day from advocates who could not be in St. Paul.  Our text-to-act mobile alert sent 126 messages to lawmaker's social media accoutns from attendess.  We also made a HUGE buzz on social media! We had 251 engagements on the Minnesota Twitter account and overal 766 hashtag mentions throughout the day!

Check out a few photos from the day below!

Professional photos: By Rebecca Studios
Photos: Lobby Day Attendees

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Symposium Attendees Taught to "Rethink Your Drink"

Attendees at the Worksite Wellness Symposium learned just how much sugar is in their daily beverages. We started out our 15 minute breakout session with a Price is Right style game, "Higher or Lower?"  Attendees had three plates of sugary treats in front of them, next to a 20 oz bottle of soda.  They had 30 seconds to determine whether the treat had a higher or lower sugar content than the soda.  Before the next game they were given facts on how much sugar the American Heart Association recommends for adult women, adult men, children, and teenagers. 

The next game was "The Sugar Shuffle!"  Attendees had two minutes to match up the amount of teaspoons of sugar with the correct drink on the board.  They were surprised at how much sugar was actually in the beverages they and their family consume every day!

Before they moved on to the next session, we asked them to sign a "Rethink Your Drink" pledge card, pledging to consume zero sugary beverages for the entire month of March, which happens to be Nutrition Month.

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The Good Food Access Fund Campaign Kickoff was a Success!

This past Tuesday, the Good Food Access Fund Campaign Kickoff took place at The Wilder Center in St. Paul.  We were fortunate to have a group of more than 100 health, food, equity, agriculture and community-development advocates, led by the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition. The Good Food Access Fund seeks to address the insufficient access to healthy and affordable foods in Minnesota.

At the kickoff event, we learned about new key research findings surrounding healthy food access, availability, and affordability issues in Minnesota. We also spent time exploring ways to engage with and support the Good Food Access Fund Campaign.

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Family is Why

Meet one of our top advocates, Dawn Moen!


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

Growing up I was a lifeguard and had to take American Heart Association CPR certifications that were offered in my area. Seven years ago I began participating in the Twin Cities Heart Walk as part of a friend's team who had a child that had complications with his heart. Because I teach fitness classes in my spare time, about five years ago I was asked to do the warm up for the Twin Cities Heart Walk at Target Field for several years before switching my efforts to more of a policy and advocacy role for the Heart Association. The great news is that heart disease is for the most part preventable through diet and exercise and so advocating for policies that make the healthy choice the easier choice are a win/win that make me feel like I am making a difference.

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

Safe Routes to School, active transportation and walking and biking advocacy are my passion. A healthy lifestyle can be attributed in large part to being physically active and there is no easier physical activity than walking or biking. Having adequate pedestrian and biking infrastructure surround our schools and major community hubs will ensure that our children have access to some of the cheapest and easiest forms of physical activity. This can instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime thus preventing the diseases that accompany a sedentary lifestyle as they grow.

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

I would have to say it is a tie between doing the warm up for the Twin Cities Heart Walk in front of over 10,000 people on Target Field and the Healthy Kids Coalition Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Both were incredible for very different reasons. The Health Kids Coalition Lobby Day was an incredible experience where I was able to see activism in action! Meeting with our legislators to explain the importance of Safe Routes to School and active transportation as well as testifying before the House Transportation Committee made me see that my voice mattered. Doing the Twin Cities Heart Walk warm up at Target Field in front of thousands of enthusiastic participants that came from different walks of life but shared a common goal was exhilarating!

What is your favorite way to be active?

I love running, biking, swimming and teaching group fitness classes. Having a newborn baby in the house I have also recently rediscovered an appreciation for a nice long walk with my children where we are able to talk.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Nothing beats a crunchy Minnesota-grown Honeycrisp apple.

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Register Now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day 2016!

Register now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day!

Don’t miss a chance to lend your voice to help improve the health of Minnesota kids by attending our 2nd Minnesotans For Healthy Kids Coalition Day at the Capitol. Join us on March 16, 2016 to advocate with others around the state by talking with your lawmakers.

During the morning you will attend advocacy workshops and trainings and then put those new skills to the test by meeting with your state legislators. Breakfast and lunch are included, and meetings with your state legislators will be scheduled for you.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102
8:00 AM—4:00 PM
Register online now!

Or call 952-278-7928 by March 2, 2016
This year's issues include:
Quality Physical Education
Safer Walking and Biking 

For more details and to register, visit

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