American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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 yet to come.

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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Dr. Rob Rockhold, Madison County

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 Dr. Rob Rockhold, a longtime volunteer and seasoned advocate.

What is your occupation? Deputy Chief Academic Officer, University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Job responsibilities include supervision of the UMMC Simulation Center, Interprofessional education efforts, faculty development, and outreach/health care professions pipeline programs. 

How long have you been a volunteer with the AHA and in what capacity? I am a research pharmacologist by training and received my first research grant from the Memphis Heart Association circa 1974. Prior to taking my current position in administration, I was involved as a researcher supported by AHA affiliates. I also served on various research committees as an affiliate officer, and was a member of the affiliate Board of Directors.  

What heart healthy topic/issue is most important to you and why? The impact of obesity/overweight on cardiovascular health has been a theme of my AHA-supported research.

What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? Moderation/selection of diet, particularly Mediterranean cuisine, and maintenance of a program of physical activity.

Tell us one unique thing about yourself. I regularly participate in the Mississippi alligator hunting program.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the AHA? In my junior year of college, I was pulled out of review sessions preceding final examinations to learn that my father, who had been a life-long smoker and previously had suffered a myocardial infarction, had passed away from a massive acute myocardial infarction. That sparked my personal interest in the mission of the AHA.


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State Sen. Plans to Tackle Food Deserts This Session

"A food desert, or the lack of access to fresh foods and vegetables, is not just a problem in Utica[, MS], but a growing issue plaguing communities across our state.  Statewide, over 70 percent of food stamp eligible households travel more than 30 miles to reach a supermarket, and in certain cities and municipalities it's even worse.

But food deserts aren't just inconvenient.  They can be deadly.  A leading cause of obesity, especially in children, food deserts contribute to staggering rates of chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and depression.

So, it's not surprising that Mississippi is home to the highest percentage of overweight or obese youth (ages 10 to 17) at 22 percent, and 15 percent of our high school students are obese.  These children rely on schools as a primary source of daily nutrition and overall health management. But these alarming statistics show that we failing our children." 

Click here to read the entire article from Sen. Frazier's guest column in The Clarion-Ledger.

State Sen. Hillman Frazier represents District 27 in Jackson. He can be reached at

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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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