American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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 on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you there!

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Let's Advocate to Help NJ Make the Grade!

Each year, the American Lung Association issues a "report card" on tobacco control policies for each state. They evaluate each state in 4 areas: tobacco prevention, smokefree air, tobacco taxes and access to cessation services.

New Jersey earned an "A" in smokefree air. Although smoking is still permitted in the state's casinos, the law does cover most other indoor public areas. The state also earned 2 F's-for tobacco prevention and access to cessation services. This is unchanged from last year.

There was a significant drop in the grade for tobacco taxes this year. In 2014, New Jersey was given a "B", but this year, that grade dropped to "D." The reason for the drop is that a bill to make the taxes on cigars, little cigars and other tobacco products equal to the tax on cigarettes has stalled. That same bill would also dedicate a portion of the increased revenue to tobacco control.

If the Legislature and the Governor were to take action on this bill, it would address two of the areas where New Jersey is sorely lacking. We continue to advocate to address this critical public health threat.

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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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NJ is Better Than Last Place

In December, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids issued their annual report Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-By-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 Years Later. The report provides a "ranking" for each state based on the state's funding for tobacco programs. New Jersey ranked dead last for 3rd year in a row. While this is not surprising because New Jersey is now the only state that spends $0 on tobacco programs, it remains concerning.

The report also noted that 12.9% of high school students in New Jersey smoke. Smoking remains the #1 cause of preventable death in the country and health care costs in the state directly caused by smoking total over $4 BILLION! New Jersey generates over $700 million in tobacco taxes each year and none of it is used for tobacco prevention.

The state budget for the upcoming year must be approved by June 30. Over the next 6 months, we will once again be advocating for funding for tobacco programs. Although significant progress has been made in reducing smoking, there is still work to do.

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