American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Be the Cure, Join Today!

  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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My Son and Sister are Why!

Meet our Senior Director of Communications, Elizabeth Warmka!

What is your why?

My son and my sister are why I work for more research dollars and a healthier world. My dad died last year due to complications of heart failure brought on by a genetic heart defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It turns out my sister also has the condition and is likely looking at the need for a heart transplant down the road. I’m thankful for the advances in research that have created new medications that have stabilized my sister’s condition buying her more time and better quality of life, but the simple fact is there is no cure for HCM or heart failure. I also worry that my son could have inherited this condition. My sister’s future and my son’s future are why more is left to be done.

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

Advocating for heart and stroke issues is not only part of my job as the Minnesota Senior Director of Communications for the AHA but heart disease and stroke is very personal to me. So many of my family members have been impacted by these diseases and their lives taken too soon. Advocating is a tribute to them and it makes me feel empowered – that I am doing my part to make sure the future is of heart and stroke care is better for my son and all future generations.

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

I’m most passionate about issues of health equity and access – whether that be to clean in-door air, sufficient health insurance, safe places to walk and bike, or healthy food access. Minnesota is always held up as this beacon for great health but that is only part of the picture. We have significant health and economic disparities among our Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American populations. This is an area where we can do better and we need to do better. I don’t have the answers but I am hopeful that AHA can be part of the solution to address these issues.

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

Having been with AHA for over nine years, there are so many successes I’m proud to have been a part of from the historic statewide smoking ban to creating a statewide stroke system to watching local volunteer AmandaJean be selected to speak from the U.S. Capitol steps on how the Affordable Care Act helped save her life.

But one accomplishment that stands out is when we passed the CPR in Schools Bill to ensure all Minnesota students learn Hands-Only CPR before graduation. We were one of the first few states to pass the bill and we did it because of the strong support we got from our volunteers, survivors and the media. It was exciting to see our volunteers and survivors come out in big numbers and interact with their elected officials one-on-one. And with the added pressure of media coverage the bill jumped over several hurdles on its way to getting passed. It was the democratic process in motion.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Walking my dog and playing with my 4-year-old son.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Honey Crisp apples (one of Minnesota’s best creations)

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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!
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
Join other advocates from Minnesota to speak with legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of active living, physical activity and combating childhood obesity.  Attend workshops and  training and utilize those skills when you meet with your state legislators.
This year's issues include:
Quality Physical Education
Safer Walking and Biking
Breakfast and lunch included.  There is no cost to attend but advanced registration is required.

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Family is Why

Meet our new Campaign Coordinator, Elyse Levine Less!

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

Working as an intern with the Minnesotan’s for Healthy Kids Coalition during my MPH program ignited my passion for advocacy through policy change.

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

Children’s health and obesity prevention because laying the foundation in early years creates healthy habits for a lifetime.

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

My first week on the job was spent in New Orleans at the Voices for Healthy Kids Annual Grantee Meeting, canvassing people in New Orleans neighborhoods to ask them about access to healthy food.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Jogging on a beautiful sunny day.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?


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Sing to End Stroke

One in three Americans can’t recall any stroke warning signs. What if singing a song could help people recognize a stroke and give someone the power to save a life?

On World Stroke Day, October 29th, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is using music to help people remember the common warning signs of stroke, F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Why learn the F.A.S.T song? The quicker you recognize the stroke warning signs and call 9-1-1 for stroke, the better the chances of recovery. 

Here is how you can participate:

So get your vocal cords ready and let's sing to end stroke!


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Focus on Better Health Among Native Americans in New Key Initiative

Check out this editorial posted today in the Star Tribune. Voices for Healthy Kids is supporting the ‘gathering of some of the nation’s most respected national philanthropic organizations.'

Six months ago, Minnesota’s Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community garnered well-deserved praise when it announced a $5 million "Seeds of Native Health" initiative to tackle a daunting public health challenge: improving Native American nutrition.

With the first round of grant recipients just announced, this influential southern-metro tribal nation laudably isn’t pausing to take a rest. Instead, it’s poised to take an ambitious step to broaden the initiative’s reach. In mid-October, it will host a gathering of some of the nation’s most respected national philanthropic organizations to "specifically focus on this nutritional crisis in Indian Country,’’ said Lori Watso, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Community’s secretary/treasurer.

The goal of the gathering, believed to be the first of its kind, is not only to raise awareness but to enlist these organizations’ support to improve nutrition in Native American communities. The other philanthropies shouldn’t hesitate to join the campaign. This is an overdue public health need, one long neglected by the federal government, and a worthy use of these organizations’ resources. Continue reading here

Photo: David Joles, Start Tribune

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Biking Injuries and Deaths Spike as More Adults Pedal

An article posted by NPR Minnesota Public Radio this week, talks about the increase of injuries and deaths that coming with the increase adults biking. Check it out below!

More adults across the country are strapping on helmets and hopping on bikes to get to work. That's good news for people's hearts and waistlines, but it also means more visits to the emergency room.

Hospital admissions because of bike injuries more than doubled between 1998 and 2013, doctors reported Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. And the rise was the biggest with bikers ages 45 and over.

"There are just more people riding and getting injured in that age group. It's definitely striking," says Dr. Benjamin Breyer, who led the study at the University of California, San Francisco. Continue reading here

Photo Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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My Family is Why

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

Health Policy was a focus of mine in law school and the American Heart Association has a stellar reputation for its work combatting leading causes of death and disability in Minnesota and the nation. I was very excited at the possibility of working for this mission and 5 years later I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve done together.

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

Systems of Care are the key for improving outcomes for patients with an acute cardiac or stroke emergency. Medical interventions have made miraculous advances in recent decades, but we still lose too many patients because we can’t get to that intervention fast enough.

A coordinated approach is how we capitalize on all of the recent medical advances. Stroke, STEMI & Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims can benefit from everything MN Medicine has to offer if we can get them to the right place, faster.

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

Persuading the Governor to sign the CPR in Schools bill was amazing. The entire campaign was such an uphill battle. After fighting every week, all legislative session to keep the bill alive day to day, and feeling exhausted at the end…having so many volunteers from so many different parts of the state showing up to help push the Governor to make the right decision felt incredible and really reminded me of why we do this work.

What is your favorite way to be active?


What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?


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Important Messages on School Nutrition Delivered During August Recess Visits

You're the Cure advocates stepped up to the plate for school meals this August, and gave Members of Congress reasons why they shouldn't roll-back strong nutrition standards for school meals! Delivering a special school lunch tray highlighting facts on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. We can't go back! Protect strong school nutrition standards and reject any effort to go back to school meals loaded with salt, fat, and sugar!

A special thank you goes out to all of the advocates who helped make this August Recess a success!   Dale Wakasugi visited Senator Amy Klobuchar's office.








Dr. Courtney Baechler and her two kids stopped by Representative Keith Ellison's office.


Jo DeBruycker and Rachel Callanan met with Representative Collin Peterson's staff.








Amanda Bartschenfeld dropped off materials to Representative Betty McCollum's office.


 Angela Alexander, Cindy Kaigama, Peggy Paul and Rachel Callanan met with Jake Coleman, the District Outreach Coordinator for  Rep. Erik Paulsen's office.

Rachel Callanan, Carrie-Ann Canney, Madeline and Colin Roberts, Elaine Larson, Jack Olwell, Lisa, Liam, and Gavin Hoffman met with District Coordinator Brooke Schaeffer of Rep. John Kline's office.

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Health Challenge for Minnesota Families Starts in September

The Minnesota News Connection posted an article today on the Life Is Why Family Health Challenge!

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The number of children who are overweight or obese in Minnesota has been swelling for decades, but a month-long event starting Tuesday aims to gain some traction in reversing that trend.

The Life is Why Family Health Challenge is broken down into four themed weeks. American Heart Association volunteer Carrie McLeod says the first component is focused on the foods people buy at the grocery store and is called My Cart is Why.

"Which helps your family to understand the importance of fruits and vegetables and has some fun, easy activities for the children to take part it," she explains. "So that it can really be a fun thing and not an 'Oh, gosh, you have to eat your broccoli' kind of thing." Continue reading here

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