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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

 

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out a video highlighting our award winners below!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.


Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:

 

  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

 

 

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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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Just around the Corner

Over the past several years, there have been local efforts in communities throughout the state to improve access to healthy food in communities where supermarkets and grocery stores are scarce. The American Heart Association is working with our partners at The Food Trust, Partnership for Healthy Kids and other organizations to create a statewide network of healthy corner stores in communities where it is sometimes difficult to find healthy food options.

In March, The Food Trust hosted a training for partners that are working to bring healthy corner stores to their communities. The training provided helpful resources and tips for working with corner stores and shared best practices.

The American Heart Association has been advocating for funding for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to make healthy food accessible in every area of the Garden State. I am looking forward to continuing to work with you, our advocates, to continue these efforts in the coming months.

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Bill Duncan of Manalapan, NJ

Bill Duncan is a longtime volunteer with various hunger organizations in New Jersey. He regularly volunteers at a local soup kitchen and is a volunteer and board member with a food pantry in his hometown of Manalapan.

After undergoing triple bypass surgery last year, Bill wanted to expand his volunteer activities to include the American Heart Association. He read about the current efforts in New Jersey to expand Healthy Corner Store programs in the state that improve food access in underserved communities. This campaign allows him to combine his interest in ending hunger with efforts to decrease heart disease risk in our most vulnerable communities.

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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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Protecting NJ's Littlest Athletes

In New Jersey, there has been great progress in recent years to make sure that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are widely available in public places and that people know how to use the devices and perform CPR. Janet's Law, which went into effect this past September, requires all schools to have an AED available at any time the school is open and that someone on the premises is trained.

On February 12, the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee voted in support of a bill that would require recreation departments, youth serving organizations and camps to have defibrillators on site and accessible during athletic events and to have someone on-site that is trained in CPR and AED use.

The bill is now pending a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but has picked up a number of new co-sponsors. In addition to the prime sponsor, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblymen Andrzejczak, Garcia, DeAngelo, Taliaferro, Lagana and Assemblywomen Pinkin and Quijano have all signed onto the legislation as co-sponsors. The American Heart Association thanks them for their commitment to this potentially life-saving legislation.

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Charlie and Beth Melita-Fair Haven, NJ

Charlie and Beth Melita tragically lost their 21 year old son Robert to a sudden cardiac death in December 2012. They wanted to find a way to honor Robert's memory and give back to the community who provided support to their family.  Together with his close family friend Paul Lenskold, Charlie formed Robert Anthony Melita Enterprises LLC (aka R.A.M. Ent.) an "Integrated Financial Services Company" in October 2013 to create a legacy in his son’s name. RAM Enterprises focuses on educating Americans on how to acquire business capital and also being financially responsible through securing "Living Benefits". RAM Enterprises is committed to community projects that include donating additional defibrillators to area schools and providing scholarships to high school seniors just to name a few.

Charlie and Beth are working with Meridian’s Community Outreach team to spearhead an initiative called "Building a Community of Life Savers". This program has educated and trained over 5000 high school students in Monmouth and Ocean counties to date. Initial training began on April 28, 2014 and included over 700 students from Robert’s alma mater, Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School. Charlie and Beth also testified before the Senate Education Committee in June 2014 in support of New Jersey's CPR in schools law.

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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 GoRedForWomen.org/RedDressCollection on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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