American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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State Lobby Day: A Day to Remember

We are excited that you are joining us May 10th for the 2016 NC AHA You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day.   To help you feel ready, we want to provide some important information about Lobby Day.

Lobby Day Schedule:

  • Registration check-in will open at 8:30 am at the Legislative Building Auditorium (link to map below). 
  • The training program will begin promptly at 9:00 am and conclude by 10:30 am so that you will be able to visit with your lawmakers. During the training we will go over the day’s events, our "asks" for the day, divide into your Lobby Day meeting groups, and have time to practice with your group. 
  • Lunch will be at the General Assembly Cafeteria in the Legislative Building. 
  • Rest area during the day is in the 1200 Court of the Legislative Building. Here you will find AHA staff, have a place to complete meeting evaluations, and take a break. 
  • All activities will conclude by 3:30 pm. 

What to wear and bring with you:

  • Visiting the legislature is an active day.  So wear comfortable shoes! 
  • Business attire is recommended, and we request that you wear something red. 
  • Also – don’t forget to check the weather – if it is supposed to rain, bring your umbrella! (Our event is rain or shine!)

Visiting the Legislature (Parking and Directions):

Staying in Raleigh:
If you prefer to come to Raleigh the evening before, here are some hotels in the downtown area that are convenient to the Legislature:

  • Marriot City Center: 500 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 833-1120
  • Sheraton: 421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 834-9900
  • Holiday Inn (least expensive and closest to the Legislative Complex): 320 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603 - Phone: (919) 832-0501

We know that was a lot of information to digest!  That is why we will wait until next week to send out information about the issues we will be talking with our legislators about.  When that information is up, you will be able to read about it by checking back with us on this post.

If you have questions about the logistical information, please contact Kacie Kennedy for more information.


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Fresh Food for Strong Kids

Why do we need a Healthy Corner Store Initiative?  This week, Valerie King, from Yadkinville, shares her thoughts.

Help us bring healthy foods to all NC communities this year – tell your lawmaker today.

"My little diva was born with a congenital heart defect. She has had 5 open heart surgeries and is the strongest kid I know. As we shuffle about from one after school activity to another, I get upset when I realize I have forgotten any snacks for her. When you live in rural North Carolina there aren’t many options available to stop and pick her up a quick healthy snack.

Her heart disease is something we couldn’t prevent. Now that she is here we want to be able to make sure she fuels her body with what she needs."

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. As legislative session is just around the corner, tell your lawmakers today that healthy food should be accessible in all communities, and ask them to support HB 250, the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act.

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We Want You... To Come To State Lobby Day

Don’t worry!  There is still time to register for NC AHA You're the Cure State Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. But if you haven't already signed up - don't delay! Sign up here.

The event will begin promptly at 9am with an issues overview and advocacy training at the legislative building. The rest of the day will be spent meeting face to face with lawmakers and watching the House and Senate in action. We anticipate the day ending around 3:30pm.

This year, we will be advocating for the following policy initiatives:

  • Passage of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative with full funding.
  • Sharing the vital importance of accessing healthcare.

Register now! It's easy - just click here. Please register by Monday, April 25, as space is limited.

Final event details will be emailed in late April.

If you have any questions, please contact Kacie Kennedy.

We look forward to an exciting day with our advocates!


Kim Chidester, Sarah Jacobson, & Betsy Vetter
Your North Carolina Advocacy Team

*PS - Want to make your registration easier? On the "detailed information" page, check the box beside the statement "carry forward" and your information will auto-fill on the next page of the registration form.

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Psst ... We Want To Tell You Something Big!

Throughout the year, we reach out with a "THANK YOU!" message to our advocates because we want you to know that your efforts are making a difference and saving lives.

We appreciate you every moment of every day.  We value those times when you rush through dinner with your family to make to make a council meeting in your community, and when you stand up and share your reasons for supporting an AHA policy. 

It means so much to us when you dedicate your time to State Lobby Day, meeting with legislators to reinforce support for active legislation.  And we can’t forget to thank you for driving to in-district Congressional offices to thank lawmakers for their support on AHA’s federal issues.  When you click to send a letter online it is incredibly valuable to our efforts and we genuinely appreciate your efforts. 

We know you have a choice about how you spend your time.  The fact that you invest in You're the Cure honors us - so this week, National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we honor you. Because YOU are our "why."

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Jennifer & Joel Griffin

Jennifer & Joel Griffin, Virginia

On June 8, 2012, Gwyneth Griffin, a 7th grader at A. G. Wright Middle School, collapsed in cardiac arrest.  Several critical minutes passed before her father, Joel, reached her. CPR had not been initiated. “There was no one else taking care of my daughter, so I had to,” said Joel. Gwyneth’s mother, Jennifer, stated “It was after the results of the MRI, 3 weeks later, that we decided no one should ever have to go through what we were going through. What became evident was the need for CPR training in schools."

While the couple immersed themselves in caring for Gwyneth at the hospital, friends and family were busy back home in Stafford learning CPR. Joel and Jennifer’s daughter, Gwyneth, passed away Monday, July 30, 2012, not from her cardiac arrest, but because CPR was not initiated within the first few minutes. Their home community mobilized, and at least 500 people have become certified in CPR since.

Jennifer and Joel involved themselves in working with the American Heart Association and their legislators to establish legislation that would assure every student was trained in CPR before graduation.  Through their efforts and perseverance, and in honor of their daughter, Gwyneth’s Law was passed in Virginia in the 2013 General Assembly session.  The law has three components: teacher training in CPR, AED availability in schools, and CPR training as a graduation requirement.

Here’s a look at how the Griffin's determination led to success:

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Since passage of the Virginia law, the Griffins have continued to work to help other states accomplish the same goal.  They visited Maryland legislators during the 2014 General Assembly session, and were instrumental in getting a similar law passed there.  Now they are actively working to make it happen in DC schools, including a series of legislator visits, a television interview, and providing testimony before committees They hope their story will help inspire others to support CPR training in schools as well. 

The legacy that Gwyneth leaves behind is one that will save countless lives. Help honor her legacy. This quick video will help you become CPR smart (and might get you dancing too):


Gwyneth Griffin


Special thanks to You’re the Cure advocate/writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for help crafting this story.


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Being a Mom is Hard Work. Finding Healthy Food Doesn’t Have to Be.

Over the coming weeks, our advocates will be sharing why they believe North Carolina needs healthy corner stores.   

Help us bring healthy corner stores to our state in 2016 – tell your lawmaker today.

Anmarie Wyrick, from Matthews, says:

"Sometimes it’s just so hard to be the mom you want to be. When you’re sprinting out the door, balancing dropping the kids off at school and taking business calls, you forget breakfast. Or lunch. The only option left is to rush into a convenience store and pray there is something there worth eating, and more importantly, worth giving to your precious children to eat. It would be such a relief to know there were healthy options on hand!"

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice for our families, wherever we live.  Tell your lawmakers today that you want all North Carolinians to have access to healthy, affordable foods and ask them to support HB 250, the Healthy Food Small Retailer Act.

Why do you think North Carolina needs healthy corner stores?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Your Advocacy Team is Hitting the Road in 2016!

Mark your calendars to join us in 2016!  The North Carolina AHA Government Relations Team: Betsy Vetter, Sarah Jacobson and Kim Chidester will be traveling across the state (from Asheville to Wilmington!) to offer two additional in-person Advocacy Training Sessions.

In these workshops, we will offer education on our 2016 policy issues, an advocacy coaching session with a fun twist, and training on how to interact with your lawmakers.

Choose from the remaining workshop(s) you’d like to attend:

[Asheville] March 24, 2016 from 5pm – 7pm at Mission Health, Biltmore Park [First floor Community Room, 310 Long Shoals Rd, Arden, 28704]
[Wilmington] April 13, 2016 from 11:30 to 1:30p at Cape Fear Heart Associates [1415 Physicians Dr, Wilmington, NC 28401]

In these workshops, we will be offering an issues-training around the following policy initiatives:

  • Healthy Corner Store Initiative
  • Closing the Coverage Gap
  • Tobacco use prevention and cessation programs
  • Issue in the pipeline: Active Transportation

We hope that you will save the date that works the best for you to join us in person, and be sure to watch your email over the next few weeks for reminders about these trainings. If you would like to join, please RSVP to Kim Chidester.

Also, we will be offering another opportunity to engage alongside us as we meet directly with your lawmakers!  Please mark your calendar to join us on May 10 as we prepare for our 2016 NC Lobby Day!

See you soon, North Carolina!

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Your Story Can Help Us Close the Gap!

At some point in our lives, we all need access to healthcare.  In a perfect world, everyone would have access to health insurance, allowing them to seek out care as needed.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone.  For more than 300,000 North Carolinians health insurance is simply out of reach.  

The Affordable Care Act intended to expand Medicaid coverage to help low-income individuals obtain health insurance.  The 2012 Supreme Court ruling made this expansion optional for states.  If a state does not expand Medicaid, many people who work still can’t afford insurance and a coverage gap is created.  North Carolina is in this situation.


Who is in the coverage gap?

Medicaid does not cover all low-income people in North Carolina.  Right now Medicaid primarily extends to children, pregnant women, seniors, and the disabled. Many childless adults and parents do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford health insurance.  

Are you working two part-time jobs earning minimum wage? You are probably stuck in the gap. 

Or are you a single adult working part-time while attending college? You are probably stuck in the gap. 

If we look around us, we will see hard-working people that simply don’t earn enough to afford health insurance.  Two-thirds of the people in the coverage gap are in a working family.   

The good news is we can fix this situation.  By working with our lawmakers we can develop a solution to close the coverage gap in North Carolina.  You can help.


Share your story

We know, as advocates, that sharing our personal story and experience is powerful and persuasive.  Together we can educate our elected leaders about what it is like to be caught in the coverage gap. 

Are you caught in the gap?  Or do you know someone caught in the gap?  Will you share your story with us? If so, please contact Kim Chidester ( 

Your story can be the difference and help us close the coverage gap so everyone can access health care. 


Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever had.” 

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Larry Calhoun

Larry Calhoun, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Several years ago, I completed a 75 mile charity bike ride--a proud achievement and testimony to my level of fitness to complete the ride.  About a week later, I went to bed early not feeling well. I awoke at 3:00 a.m. with a pain in my chest that felt like someone tightening a strap around it and had a VERY rapid heartbeat. I drove myself to the local ER and called Karen, my fiancée, on the way. The ER Doctor determined that I had “atrial fibrillation” (or a-fib). Thus began my journey from a fit man in his 50s to a heart patient overnight. Karen began this journey with me, but also resumed a journey she had previously traveled. Her father had a-fib and had died in 1991 from a stroke caused by this heart disease.

After six months of not being able to control my a-fib, I was referred to a specialist at the Medical University of SC in Charleston to have an ablation preformed.  I intently studied the ablation process, and with my background in computers and engineering, understood the high tech nature of this procedure. My ablation was performed in Charleston in February, 2007.  This eight hour procedure cured me of my a-fib. I have returned to a normal, healthy lifestyle riding my bike and easily walking 18 holes of golf.  My life is back!!

I know that my procedure would not have been possible without intense research into atrial fibrillation, and the work of organizations involved in heart health.  We are especially concerned that future generations do not have to suffer with heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation. 

(Larry, his wife Karen, and their grandchildren - Carmen, Miles, and Isaac - are pictured.) 

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If You Build It, They Will Become

How do you get your lawmakers to become allies for our mission and policy efforts?  In truth some may never, but many will if you take the time to employ a few basic strategies to build your relationship with them, and thereby strengthen the power of your constituent voice. 

  • Connect.  Write, call, or visit to introduce yourself and share what’s important to you.  It’s helpful to check their webpage first to see what their platforms and issues are so you can acknowledge overlap.
  • Build your credibility. Prepare to talk about You’re the Cure’s policy issues.  Read our issues alerts and talking points closely and look for where you can draw a personal connection.  Be ready to state why you care.
  • Meet.  Book an appointment specifically to address a policy issue important to you, and share why you have a personal interest.  Be clear about what you want from them in terms of support. Meet their staff as well, be gracious and appreciative of the opportunity to meet with them if your representative is not available, learn their names and titles.
  • Create photo opps.  Take advantage of face-to-face time to get a quick pic with your legislator or their staff and post to social media with our and their hashtags.  They love the exposure - you’ll make a real fan of them.
  • Thank. Always write a quick thank you note after a visit, including meetings with staff.  It seems like a little thing but it helps get you noticed. (Be sure to spell names correctly!)
  • Reconnect.  Check back periodically, and remind them of past interactions.  Repeating your message IS effective – never assume once is enough, even if they have pledged support for the issue.  Look for excuses to connect back with them: 
    • Take a neighbor from the same district to meet them
    • Bring a new data-point on a key issue to the table, or provide an update on the status of a bill
    • Call or write to ask if they have any new concerns about the issue that we may be able to address
    • Call or write to thank them for their yes vote on our issue
    • Share new issues expected on our agenda

Try to connect at least every 4-6 months, and much more frequently when there is an active policy during session that we need action on. 

Be the nicest squeaky wheel they have ever met, and they just may become our ally!  That’s the way to make your personal power as an advocate really count.

We are your partner in this endeavor!  We can help you shape your message, provide the most current fact sheets or updates on policy status, and help craft answers to questions or concerns that are raised. 

By all means, do let us know about the contacts you make specific to our policy issues, and any outcomes from the interaction.  We appreciate your efforts and love to hear from you.

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