American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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William 'Bill' Daly, Mississippi

Our 2014-15 Mississippi Advocacy Committee is composed of 10 individuals from across the state with different occupations, who have a great interest in advocating for policy change for heart health issues. Throughout the year, we will introduce you to some of our members. 

Today, we'd like you to meet Mr. Bill Daly, a longtime volunteer and seasoned advocate for nearly 40 years.

Where do you reside?  Grenada, MS

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy?  Exercise and diet.

One unique thing about you?  Love playing the drums.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer with the AHA?  The researchers that developed the procedures that allowed me to be 'fixed' as a teen that gave me the opportunity to look forward to old age.

My survivor story:

I live a blessed life because of the research done back in the earlier days of American Heart Association.  I was born with a heart murmur that continued to worsen as I grew.  My life expectancy was 35 because my heart was working so hard.  I had surgery when I was 15.  I am now 63, have 6 grandkids that I enjoy. Plus, I am perfectly healthy - jog, play drums in a jazz band and enjoy life.

Today, this condition is not a big deal.  As a matter of fact a heart surgeon once told me, "I can fix that on my lunch hour now."  But, in 1964 it was a big deal.  I am forever thankful to those who went before us and provided the research that led to the surgical techniques that have allowed me to live a normal life.
I have tried to pay it forward.


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From the Bottom of our Hearts - Thank You!

National Volunteer Week (April 12-18) is right around the corner and we couldn’t let it pass without saying how much we appreciate all your contributions as a You’re the Cure advocate. It’s advocates like you who give their time, energy, and passion to help create healthier communities across the country.  We are deeply grateful for your commitment and talent as an advocate.

Since staff can’t always shake your hand and say thank you in person we’ve got a brief video to share. When you watch I am sure you too will be moved by all the great work happening in your states and communities and we look forward to more success in the future. Take a moment to check out the video and then encourage other to get involved and join in the fun.

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Ridgeland Participates in National Walking Day

Every year, the American Heart Association encourages communities across the nation to get up and walk; on the first Wednesday of April.  National Walking Day is the American Heart Association’s national initiative that champions walking to increase physical activity and help the community move away from a sedentary lifestyle.  With adults spending more time at work than ever before and those jobs requiring less and less physical activity, as a nation we are becoming more physically inactive.  Physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease which is the number one killer of all Americans.

Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee recently proclaimed the first Wednesday in April as National Walking Day in Ridgeland and urged citizens to participate. 
“Studies indicate that one of the best investments we can make in our communities is to increase access to physical activity opportunities by providing families and children with safe places to walk and be physically active, said McGee in the proclamation.  “This can improve heart health and reduce obesity rates.”

The goal is for local businesses to support their employees’ health by encouraging them to step away from their desks and spend some time being active.  Some of the ways the American Heart Association suggests getting active on National Walking Day include bringing sneakers to work and taking 30 minutes at lunch to walk outside, using the stairs instead of the elevator, and taking walking meetings rather than brainstorming around a table. 

There was also a National Walking Day event held at the State Capitol, where legislators, capitol staff, and volunteers were invited to participate in walking around the Capitol Building to bring awareness to the benefits of daily walking habits. 

Way to go, Ridgeland!  We hope to include more communities in Mississippi next year in this wonderful day of walking toward a healthier state.

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Help secure funding for this life-saving AED program today!

This is a critical time in Congress. Lawmakers are deciding on their funding priorities and the next round of budget negotiations are beginning. Even in this difficult economy, there are several federally-funded programs that are vital to the heart community, and we need to let our lawmakers know they must be a priority.

One such program helps buy and place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in rural communities. The program also trains first responders and others in the community to use and operate these devices. The Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Program ensures those who live in rural areas or small towns have access to the tools they need for the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, the program currently only has the resources to operate in 12 states.

Please contact your lawmaker today and ask them to prioritize funding to save lives from cardiac arrest!

People in every state should be given the best shot at surviving a cardiac arrest. Communities with aggressive AED placements have increased survival rates from about 11% to nearly 40%, which is an incredible improvement. But 38 states are still waiting for funds for this life-saving program.

Deadlines in Congress are looming, so please contact your elected officials TODAY!

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My Little Box: A Peek Into Limited Food Access

Living in my box.

I am like many in Mississippi, I go to work, take care of my children and try to accomplish the most I can each day.  I live in my own little box, living my life and getting through each day, not really thinking about how others are doing the same but under much different circumstances and surroundings. 

I have two daughters and one son, Jessica, Courtney and Garrett.  Courtney, like Jessica, played soccer and loved it!  We traveled all across the state playing soccer. 

When it came time to look into college opportunities, Courtney wanted to look at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.  We made an appointment and went for a visit.  We drove up Highway 49, a trip we were quite accustom to making on our many soccer adventures.  The change came when we turned onto Highway 49 West. 

I made it a habit when I traveled with my kids to keep an eye out for stops, in case we needed snacks, drinks or a bathroom break.  That is what made this trip different, there was nothing for miles and miles and I mean NOTHING.  In my little box, my coastal hometown, there is a convenient store on every corner.  That is not the case in the Mississippi Delta.  Until I saw with my own eyes and experienced it, I did not have an appreciation for this convenient access and option to accommodate various food needs for myself and my family.

I remember thinking, "I wonder where they go to get groceries?  They must have to thoroughly plan out a day trip to the grocery store, literally there and back; if you have a mode of transportation."  This is another thing that I know I take for granted because my car is always in my driveway.  I do not think twice about jumping in my vehicle and running to the store because I have that option. 

It is quite easy to go back to my little box and not think about those that have to go on a road trip to get to a store; if they are lucky enough to have a car.  However, people in our state should not have to do that, there are solutions and options that the American Heart Association is currently working on during this 2015 legislative session.  There are ways that we can help those in areas where healthy food is hard to access.  

Legislation introduced by Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, could help entice grocers to move into neighborhoods and communities that are underserved and impoverished.  Senate Bill 2840 would provide tax breaks to grocery stores in economically distressed areas in an attempt to retain existing supermarkets, as well as attract new ones. 

Click here to read more about this proposed legislation on

--Article written by American Heart Association, Mississippi State Advocacy Committee Chair, Kerry Caldarelli, Long Beach


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Toni Wild, Mississippi

Toni Wild is a survivor.  Not just because she fought two life-threatening diseases and lived to tell the tale, but because she did it with a smile and everlasting hope, even when she lost her first love.

Though the events that occurred seem like more trials than one could endure in a lifetime, Toni doesn’t see it that way.  “I’m just an ordinary person with an extraordinary story,” she says.

 At only 29, Toni was diagnosed with cancer.  The news turned her world momentarily upside down, but she dove into treatment ready to fight back.  Little did she know, surviving chemotherapy was only the first of many battles.

Click here to read more of Toni's amazing story of perseverance on

Click the video image to watch Toni's Heart Story.

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The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 Livestream

Join us for this exclusive virtual event where top designers and celebrities demonstrate their support for women's heart health during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Heart disease is not just a man's disease. Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. We can change that--80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Help break barriers against heart disease and stroke by joining us for the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2015 live online at on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Kerry Caldarelli, Mississippi

Kerry Caldarelli of Long Beach is Chair of our 2014-15 State Advocacy Committee. She has been a faithful volunteer and advocate with the American Heart Association for the last seven years due to her son, Garrett, who is her why. Garrett was born with multiple heart defects diagnosed as Shone's Complex, which resulted in two open heart surgeries. Today, he is pacemaker dependent, but healthy and well.

What is your occupation? Senior Accountant for Signing River Healthy Systems

How long and in what capacity have you been a volunteer? I've been a volunteer for seven years and have had the opportunity to speak at various events on behalf of You're the Cure. I currently chair the State Advocacy Committee and raise funds for the Gulf Cost Heart Walk. 

Which AHA advocacy campaign is most important to you and why? I can't choose just one! I am particularly invested in screening for heart defects in newborns, healthy food options for all Mississippians, and a Smokefree Mississippi.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy?  Eat right and exercise regularly

Tell us one unique thing about yourself. I love to talk! Big surprise! I really love to talk about the American Heart Association. I recently went to the bank and struck up a conversation with the teller who was helping me. I started talking about my son, I turned around, and the lady next to me thanked me. She was grateful to know the help that I attributed to the American Heart Association for my son. She did not have a "why" when she walked into the bank but with my story that she learned of, it gave her a why! My why is pretty cute, and he tends to win hearts over even when he is not in the room. I'm thankful to have his inspiration by my side on a daily basis for me and for others. 

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Another Food Desert in Mississippi?

This year, access to healthy foods is a priority issue for Mississippi. Proximity to neighborhood supermarkets is associated with healthier living and lower body weight, as found in several large cross sectional studies. The Food Trust found that more than 800,000 Mississippi residents, including more than 200,000 children, live in urban and rural communities under served by grocery stores. Residents in these communities suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. 

For south Jackson residents, this issue is hitting close to home as recently reported by the Jackson Free Press: 

Residents in south Jackson are working feverishly to make sure their neighborhood doesn't become a food desert when the Kroger on Terry Road closes later this month.

Last week, the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain announced that the store would close on Feb. 28 after 24 years in operation. In a statement to WJTV, a Kroger spokeswoman called shutting the store a "hard decision," but added that 109 employees would be offered positions with other Kroger stores in the area.

Jackson residents decried the move, calling the Kroger one of the only grocers in that area.  Food Depot, on the corner of Terry Road, also serves the area. Tyrone Hendrix, who represents south Jackson's Ward 6 on the city council, said shoppers are considering an online campaign to convince Kroger to reconsider.

Read more on 

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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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