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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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Carla Leonard Has a Second Chance...

Thanks to Louis' Law, Carla Leonard is alive and can watch her daughter grow.

As a school crisis intervention aid, Carla  had grown to hate one part of her morning routine: bumping her head on the AED situated right near her desk.   Ironically, CPR and that AED saved her life.  She was 43 when she went into sudden cardiac arrest during the morning pledge.  The school nurse quickly started CPR and used the AED.  This gave Carla  a fighting chance at survival until EMTs arrived.

Carla knows she is one of the lucky ones.   About 90% of sudden cardiac arrest victims do NOT survive.  As a survivor, Carla is now doing everything she can to help change this grim statistic.  New York put safety put by requiring schools to have AEDs.    Now, Carla has personally contacted each member of the Board of Regents to urge them to take the next step -  to require CPR and AED instruction for students.

We're getting closer...will you join Carla by contacting the Board of Regents today? 

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Teen Zombies, Rhode Island

More than 200 teens from across Rhode Island marched on the State House as part of the 2015 Zombie Walk for Kick Butts Day on March 18th. They carried the message that tobacco and nicotine use is not for them - and Big Tobacco can't sway their choice to choose health!  A smaller group of teens met directly with legislators in a youth-legislator roundtable discussion at the State House, hosted by Rep. Art Handy. They shared their message about teen tobacco use and legislators shared with them how important their voice is in the fight for a tobacco free Rhode Island.

Many thanks to Karina Wood, Director of Tobacco Free Rhode Island, for organizing this great event – and to all the local substance abuse prevention task forces and coalitions that took part and arranged for high school students from their communities to participate.  But most of all – thanks to the teen zombies for taking a stand against Big Tobacco! 

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Kate Kearns, Maine

The last time I spoke to my Dad, he had decided he wanted my baby, due that winter, to call him "Granddaddy." You see, my sister and I never stopped calling him "Daddy" even into our adulthood, and he wanted to keep it that way. He never got to meet my daughter.

I remember him always doing his exercises in the evening. He did Pilates before it was cool, conscientiously kept himself slender and fit. He looked just like Tom Selleck in those Salem cigarette ads from the 70s, mustache and all. But that comparison has its problems, too. That cigarette, casually draped on his finger, its smoke mingling with the cool, fresh air from the car window, is braided through all my memories of him.

Eventually, no amount of exercise and eating habits kept him healthy. I don’t remember a time when his feet weren’t purple, and in the two years leading to his death, my sister and I noticed that even getting dressed made him winded and sweaty. He often tripped over those feet we’re sure he could barely feel. He was very private about whatever was wrong, but we knew. In the end, he didn’t die of lung cancer or heart disease. Alone in his apartment one Tuesday night in August, 2011, my Dad stumbled and fell, hit his head, and was gone.

Because his death was an "accident," my Dad won’t show up in any of the American Heart Association’s statistics, but if he had known better forty years ago, he might be my daughter’s Granddaddy today. When my Dad was a teenager, he made a choice, and his choice was purchased by a company that told him it was harmless.

I am an advocate for the American Heart Association and a member of its Maine Board of Directors. My father’s memory and my daughter’s future are why.

Kate Kearns

Owner of Black Squirrel Workshop in Scarborough, Maine

Secretary of the Maine AHA Board of Directors

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Advocate Spotlight: Representative Fred Deutsch

It was the spring of 2007.  I had just turned 50.  Shortness of breath sent me to my doctor.  After a battery of tests he told me I was 50 pounds overweight, had hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and the muscles on the left side of my heart had started to abnormally thicken (ventricular hypertrophy).  The good news was some of this could be reversed. 

It was time to change my life.

I changed my eat-like-a-teenager-diet to a heart healthy diet and decided to start a bicycle exercise program.  I bought my first bicycle since I was a kid.  At first it was all I could do just to ride it down the street.  But I set daily goals, and slowly I started to add the miles. 

Soon the pounds began to disappear.  From April 2007 to the following April I went from 220 pounds to 170 pounds, my blood pressure reduced, my lipid profile returned to normal and I was able to stop almost all my medications. 

A funny thing also happened along the way – I fell in love with bicycling. It stopped becoming a daily chore and became something I looked forward to.  

I now pedal some 4000 miles per year, and have ridden my bicycle across many states and over many mountains.

This year as a freshman legislator I was able to put my bicycling experience to good use in advocating for the Bicycle Passing Bill to improve road safety in South Dakota.  Gratefully, the bill garnered overwhelming support and was signed into law by the Governor on March 12th

South Dakota has now joined over two dozen other states in establishing a minimum three-foot passing law. In addition, if the posted speed is over 35 mph, the minimum distance for a motorized vehicle to pass a bicycle bumps up to six feet.

Hopefully the new law will encourage more people to take to the roads and enjoy the many health and recreational benefits of bicycling.    For me, bicycling was a tool I used to turn my life around. Now I pedal not because I have to, but because I love to.

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Tania Boughton

Tania Noelle Boughton is Chair of the AHA State Leadership Council for Obesity Prevention, the author of cookbook Eating Light, Done Right, and the founder of “Check the Light Before You Bite!” a healthy eating program in school districts, geared toward helping children make healthier food choices. But first and foremost, Tania is Mom to her two sons.
 
A few years ago, Tania saw what appeared to be a hole in the self-help/cookbook market. As she quickly dropped her baby weight and experienced droves of people at the gym asking how, began to she dig deeper. She realized that while she had made the decision to stop eating emotionally, many of these people had not. Herein lies the groundwork for Eating Light, Done Right: Simply Sinless Recipes from the Single Mom Next Door. Drawing on her experience in the military counseling troops on weight control, she quickly realized that she loved helping people face the demons within. This turning point redirected her life in a positive direction.
 
As a mom, Tania knows how important it is to make eating healthy fun for kids. That’s why she teamed up with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) to establish a program called “Check the Light Before You Bite!” to reward kids when they choose healthy food options at school. The program is in full swing with sponsors, teams and professional athletes signing on, however she quickly realized that her work needed to be taken a step further. Rewarding children for writing recipes, essays and making healthier eating decisions was progress, however it wasn't enough. As she traveled further into schools and the underserved areas, she realized that many of these children didn't have the option to eat healthfully, because they had little to no access to grocery stores and healthy food.
 
Tania understood that her journey to improve children’s health would not be complete without being involved in advocacy through You’re the Cure, to engage Texas lawmakers to change policies for the better. Tania came upon a poignant moment this past December when delivering holiday gifts to an elementary school in Dallas. The hallways were lined with children, Pre-K to fifth grade, waiting to go home. Each student was holding an apple or pear, given to them by the cafeteria staff because otherwise the fruit would have spoiled overnight.

Tania was struck by the fact that these apples and pears may be the only fruit, or dinner that the children would have at home that night. This moment was both heartbreaking and motivating, all in one. The Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Campaign, in which Tania is an active participant through her role on the State Leadership Council, will work diligently to change this, so all Texas families can access grocery stores. Tania is passionate about engaging more volunteers in this effort, and the You’re the Cure Texas team thanks her for her dedication!

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Heart Saver Spotlight: Skylar Berry

Every year there are almost 424,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States, and of this figure an estimated 10,200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen to children.  Sadly, only 10% of victims who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive, largely in part because many victims do not receive timely CPR or AED application. 

Do you know CPR? If not, please take two minutes to learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR.

Skylar Berry can attest to the importance of knowing CPR.  In the summer, Skylar and her friends were at a birthday party and one of the attendees was found floating at the bottom of the pool, seemingly lifeless.  Thankfully, Skylar recognized that her classmate was not joking and not breathing and helped pull him from the pool. She checked his pulse, and then realized CPR might be the last resort to reviving her classmate.  Because of her immediate actions, her classmate survived and was back to life as normal within a few days. 

Thankfully Skylar learned CPR techniques in Fire Camp hosted by the Sacramento Metro Fire Department a few weeks prior to the incident.  “I am so glad I learned CPR because it helped save my friend’s life,” said Berry. “It was scary but I was calm and remembered the training I received. I just shouted to the adults to Call 9-1-1 and immediately started doing CPR after we pulled him from the pool.”

Unfortunately, 70% of Americans feel helpless to act during an emergency cardiac situations and only 32% of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR, which largely attributes to low survival rates.

To view the full story, please visit here.

Studies show that teaching students lifesaving skills of CPR techniques in school will empower our youth and put thousands of lifesavers in our community.  Keeping this in mind, Skylar now teaches groups of students at her elementary school Hands-only CPR because she knows that emergency situations can happen at any time and she wants to do her part to put more lifesavers on the streets of her community.

Thank you Skylar for being a Heart Saver and for going above the call of duty to empower your classmates to learn Hands-Only CPR!

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Share Your Story: Abby Snodgrass

Abby Snodgrass Missouri

Abby Snodgrass, a suburban St. Louis high school student, is being credited with saving a baby's life. 

Hillsboro High School student Abby Snodgrass knew what to do when an 11month old child stopped breathing at a Walmart store in High Ridge.

Snodgrass was in a dressing room when she heard an emergency call. She ran out to find a crowd surrounding the infant and panicked mother, but no one was doing anything to save the child. Snodgrass had learned CPR in school a couple of months earlier. She performed chest compressions and the child began breathing again.

High Ridge Fire District Chief Mike Arnhart says the child may not have survived if not for Snodgrass' quick actions.

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VOTE for ISU's Coach Hoiberg

Coach Fred Hoiberg Iowa

It’s March Madness and the American Heart Association has made it into the Final Four in the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge. You see, Iowa State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Fred Hoiberg is competing to win $100,000 for the American Heart Association – and he needs our help to make it a slam dunk win!

Coach Hoiberg was the ONLY coach to select the AHA as his charity, so it is important that we all support his efforts, regardless of your favorite college team.  Coach Hoiberg is also a survivor of heart disease which ended his NBA career early.  He is definitely an advocate for the AHA and a strong volunteer and supporter.  We appreciate his commitment to us – now let’s show our appreciation for him!

Please exercise your right to vote here today, and EVERY DAY through March 15, to help bring $100,000 to the American Heart Association. 

The Infiniti Coaches Challenge By the Numbers. . .

10– seconds it takes to create an ESPN account (if you don’t have one already)

0number of emails/correspondence you’ll get for creating an account (seriously, not a single one)

5seconds it takes to login and cast your vote each day

12number of votes EACH OF YOU represent between now and March 15

4,560number of votes we could generate by MIDWEST AFFILIATE STAFF ALONE

100,000dollars that could go to the AHA’s lifesaving research & education

Let’s continue to rally around heart disease survivor, Coach Fred Hoiberg, to push him over the top! 

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Share Your Story: Stephanie Belesky

Stephanie Belesky, Indiana

At her heaviest, Stephanie weighed 386 pounds. Although there were several red flags in her life, the impetus to change came when she witnessed her grandmother's difficult recovery from hip surgery.  Stephanie set a big goal - running a marathon - but also set many smaller goals that she could attain and measure her progress. She began walking on a treadmill and using an elliptical at the gym. She also learned about healthy eating and adopted those habits into her diet.  Stephanie's journey began three years ago, and in that time she has participated in more than a dozen 5K runs as well as the 2014 Indianapolis Mini Marathon. She has lost 115 lbs. and is an inspiration to those around her.

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