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
#Back2Healthy Blows Up

As part of our ongoing Step Up to the Plate for School Meals campaign, You're the Cure and the AHA led a #Back2Healthy social media day of action on Thursday, September 3rd, to help build awareness and tell lawmakers we can't go back on strong school nutrition standards.

With thousands of participants joining in, our messages reached more than 17 million Facebook and Twitter users, and proved the large and diverse array of individuals and organizations in support of healthy school meals. Additionally, with Congress poised to return from its August recess, we were also able to share stories and photos from all the great meetings that You’re the Cure advocates held with legislators and their staff throughout the month.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the day of action and visited their lawmaker! The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has been a huge success, with 96% of schools nationwide meeting the healthier standards. And if you haven’t joined in yet, it’s not too late: click here to share a #Back2Healthy message on Facebook, and here to do so on Twitter. Every message makes a difference!

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CPR in Schools Campaign Reaches Midpoint

Just this month, North Dakota became the 25th state to require all students be trained in CPR before high school graduation. Today, New York became the 26th state to ensure their students will be CPR Smart!  Today’s vote by the New York State Education Department Board of Regents means that more than 1.5 million lifesavers will be added to our communities each year.

For the first time, we can say that more than half the high school graduates in the United States will have been trained in CPR before graduation! Congratulations and thank you for all your work to get us to this important milestone!
More than 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year. About 90 percent of those victims die, often because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR or are afraid they’ll do something wrong. Bystander CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our community with lifesavers – those trained to give cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive.

The American Heart Association is helping create the next Generation of Lifesavers™ by advocating for laws in every state that ensure students learn CPR before they graduate. With the help of AHA volunteers and staff, 26 states are on board. Help us bring along the others!

The power to save a life is literally in our hands. And in our kids’ hands.

To learn more about the campaign and pledge your support for CPR in Schools, visit

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Share Your Story: Mary Smith

Mary Smith Missouri

In early September 2009, when I woke up from my 5 day coma, you can only image how shocked I was to learn that I had suffered a cardiac arrest. After all, I was a 32 year old vegetarian that worked out five days a week. After talking with doctors and other volunteers with the American Heart Association, I learned that heart disease does not discriminate. It can affect anyone at any time.

Since then, my family and I have made it our mission to help educate others by raising awareness of heart disease in America. We are determined to let EVERYONE know that it can happen to ANYONE no matter race, age, gender etc. We want people to understand that life goes on.

I have been blessed to enjoy a full recovery in addition to being protected by an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) against future incidents. I currently volunteer with the American Heart Association as the Vice Chair of the Go Red for Women Passion Committee in St. Louis. My nine year old daughter also participates in the Jump Rope for Heart Campaign and has been recognized as a heart ambassador by her school for her efforts. The fight against heart disease has become a passionate effort by my whole family.


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Share Your Story: Wichita Sweethearts

Wichita Sweethearts Kansas

The American Heart Association Sweethearts are high school sophomores who (from September through June) actively participate in a program designed to teach them about heart healthy lifestyles and about the prevention of heart disease through education and volunteerism.

Through this program, these young ladies learn that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. During their tenure as Sweethearts, they learn the goals of the American Heart Association and how to implement those goals on a daily basis.  Click here to learn more.

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Share Your Story: Dr. Benjamin Reinking

Dr. Benjamin Reinking Iowa

As a Pediatric Cardiologist, I choose to be involved with the American Heart Association for one simple reason: Heart disease and stroke are preventable. Think about that. The leading cause of death and disability in the United States is preventable. Even more amazing is that most of the solutions are simple: eat a healthy diet, stay active, and don’t smoke. Working with the American Heart Association to help spread this message and create heart healthy communities and schools is an easy way for me to make a difference.

Every day I have the privilege of working with children who are born with congenital heart disease. These "heart warriors" and their families bravely battle a life threatening birth defect. They come to their clinic visits, take medications, and undergo surgeries all to help correct a heart that didn’t form correctly. Throughout this ordeal, the most common question parents ask me is "Why did this happen?" Unfortunately, in most cases, we still don’t know the cause of congenital heart disease. By working with the American Heart Association, I hope to be able to raise awareness about congenital heart disease and advocate for research dollars. I’m confident that someday we will discover the cause of congenital heart disease and will be able to prevent it.

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and to help raise awareness with families across the country, the American Heart Association has brought back a fun and easy way to help you with the No. 1 health concern among parents – childhood obesity. Through the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™  families and kids will learn to take control of their health in four weeks by pursuing a different goal each week with activities that are fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family! By the end of the month, you might feel accomplished and be better equipped to live a heart-healthy life. There will also be four Life is Why Family Health Challenge™ Twitter Chats every Wednesday in September.

Mark your calendars and get ready to take the challenge in September by visiting - where you will have access to videos, complimentary challenge materials, and the Life is Why Family Health Challenge™ social media group that will help you, and your family, stay on track.  



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The Time to Fight for NIH Research is Now!

For the last month, thousands of You’re the Cure advocates have signed our petition to say, “I won’t stop fighting for NIH”. We cannot wait to deliver all of these names this week when 20  advocates meet with their members of Congress.

However, your fight does not end here.

In addition to delivering your name, these advocates will also remind Congress that we must make NIH a priority... but they need your help. Will you amplify their message by sending one more letter to your legislators?

I know we have asked you to contact Congress a few times this year, but, thanks to you, we are the closest we’ve been in years to an increase in NIH funding. Proposed bills in both the US House and Senate give NIH additional funding, but nothing is final until we see a Presidential signature.

Every voice counts as we try to convince our lawmakers to support more medical research.

Will you urge your lawmakers to make NIH research funding a priority today? 



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Share Your Story - Iowa


For most kids, August marks the end of summer and their return back to school. How do your kids get to and from school? Are they walkers, car riders or do they take the bus?

The American Heart Association is partnering with the Healthier Iowa Coalition to create safe and healthy communities for all families in Iowa. Through Safe Routes to Schools, we can make great strides in reducing local obesity rates and improving every citizen’s quality of life. We would love to hear about your child’s experiences, barriers and obstacles they encounter everyday getting to and from school. Please Share Your Story with us.

Currently, the Healthier Iowa Coalition is working on a Safe Routes to School initiative, which will provide needed funding for projects that will encourage our children to walk to school. The Healthier Iowa Coalition is dedicated to ensuring safe routes to school. As a federally-funded program, Safe Routes to Schools provides the financial resources to repair sidewalks, hire crossing guards, and remove the barriers that discourage parents from allowing their children to be active in the community. For more information, please visit The Healthier Iowa Coalition website.

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Share Your Story: Jenna Bell

Jenna Bell Kansas

I am a mom, Army Wife, daughter, and a survivor of heart disease. When I was 23 I was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy and told I was at risk for sudden cardiac death. I wouldn’t have a heart attack. My heart would simply stop and I would die. I was told that I would never have children and I would be living with heart disease my whole life. They were wrong. I have two beautiful children Mary Ann and Will. I am on the heart transplant list and will be getting a new heart that will end the disease in mine. Even with my new heart I’ll be fighting for my heart and yours for many years to come.

When I was first diagnosed I thought it was stress.  The love of my life was 12 months into a 15 month deployment. I was a full time special education teacher, head of the special education department, a master’s degree student and working retail part time. I went to my doctor to appease my mother and expected for him to tell me it was stress and to go home. Instead he said, "You’re young, you’re healthy, you’re not overweight but go see the cardiologist just in case." I saw the cardiologist within a week and received my deadly diagnosis shortly thereafter. That doctor could have sent me home but instead he saved my life. 

Shortly after my diagnosis I heard about a casting call being done by the American Heart Association looking for "real women" to share their stories. I knew I had to share mine. I found out I was selected as a National Spokeswoman for AHA in 2009. It was a whirlwind of interviews and advocacy events and I loved every minute. I was able to share my story with women and show them, not tell them, that heart disease does not discriminate. All women are at risk. 

I am committed to educating others about heart disease for a number of reasons, the heart of which is my children. I want them to not only have access to great schools and great teachers but also to amazing healthy food while they are learning. What our children put in their bodies is equally as important as what we are putting in their minds. I also advocate for research. I want to ensure I am here for my kids as they grow up. Right now the average heart only lasts 12 years after transplantation. I want to live far longer and research is key. Heart disease is the #1 killer and we need top notch research to eradicate it from our lives and the lives of our children.

When I think of the future I think of my daughter’s wedding. I think of watching her Dad walk her down the aisle. Her little brother watching his sister commit to the person she loves. My parents being there to support her. I think of hugging her on her wedding day and telling her how beautiful she looks. I think of all those things every time I educate someone about my heart journey and living a heart healthy life. I choose to advocate, fundraise, and educate to ensure a heart healthy future for me, my family and my community.

Her Wedding is Why.


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Share Your Story: Debora Grandison

Debora Grandison Missouri

It was 26 years ago when I was placed on medication to stop pre-term labor. That medication not only jeopardized the life of my unborn child, but mine as well. After a stint in intensive care, I began a long journey of misdiagnoses, medications and medical testing, which all led to years of unanswered questions, feeling misunderstood and a great deal of anxiety and fear.

The key to getting me on track was finding a doctor who understood my symptoms, fears and concerns. This allowed me to create a positive plan of action that would put me on a life changing journey. This journey, is my journey, a journey with a purpose to make a difference through volunteering opportunities and sharing my story.

I began volunteering with the AHA's Go Red Passion Committee and also became an active member of The Midwest Affiliate Speaker's Bureau. This year I also had the pleasure of traveling to the Missouri State Capitol to lobby in support of House Bill #457 which would make CPR Training mandatory in our high schools. And now I’m sharing my story with my fellow Missourians to promote heart health awareness.

Over the years, I watched heart disease shorten the lives of 4 immediate family members including a younger sibling who passed away at the early age of 35 from a massive heart attack. This leaves me questioning what MY future holds.

Currently, I am living well; even with a pacemaker, Afib and diabetes. I have a strong desire to encourage, empower and support those who may walk a similar path as mine. I enjoy educating others through advocating awareness and prevention of Heart Disease and Stroke. I actively seek opportunities to "spread the word" throughout the community! Finding passion and purpose through my journey, is a true gift that brings me joy!

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