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Thank You for Everything You Do!

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week this week (April 12 – 16) – and with that thought on our minds, we wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you, and all that you do for You’re the Cure initiatives all across the East Coast.

We appreciate every single alert response, every call, every visit you have made to your lawmakers and elected officials. We appreciate you joining us in conference rooms across our division as we train you on different state policies and how to be an engaged advocate. We appreciate those who serve on our Advocacy Committees, putting in long hours in meetings and on calls as you help us shape our grassroots plans.

We appreciate you, and we appreciate your time and all you do as a partner of the American Heart Association. In case you ever forget, every little thing – both large and small – makes a difference!

Every Little Thing you do

as a You’re the Cure advocate helps,

and we appreciate you!

 THANK YOU for all you do.

Just a note: If you haven't joined our advocacy network yet, it's never too late! Just visit us at www.yourethecure.org and become a You're the Cure member. It only takes a few moments to sign up, but you'll help make a difference that will last through the years!

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You're the Cure at the Capitol: A Sea of Red Arrives at the State House

On March 30 and 31, over 60 You’re the Cure advocates from across North Carolina met at the American Heart Association’s office for our annual State Lobby Day.  Advocates participated in advocacy training on Monday. We reviewed the AHA state lobby day issues, learned the components of an effective meeting with a lawmaker and had time to meet in our lobby day meeting groups. 

Yolanda Dickerson and Frank Amend, present and past chair of the NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee respectively, along with Ilana Adlee, You’re the Cure youth advocated, discussed how they prepare for legislative meetings and what to expect from a meeting with a lawmaker. Everyone left with an understanding of what to expect at the legislature on Tuesday.

Resembling a sea of red, we arrived on Tuesday at the Capitol and enjoyed conversations with many Representatives, Senators, and their legislative aides as advocates urged their lawmakers to support:

  • HB 250/SB 298: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Healthy Corner Store Act
  • SB 662: Appropriate Funds for Tobacco Use Prevention
  • A NC Plan to Close the Coverage Gap

At mid-day, Matt Newman and our You’re the Cure youth advocates lead their fellow advocates, lawmakers and legislative staff in a walk around Halifax Mall to help raise awareness about National Walking Day, April 1.  By day’s end, we heard attendees comment that it had been a great day filled with positive experiences. 

A special thank you to the NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee for their help in planning and executing this signature advocacy event.  Finally, a big thank you to all the advocates that joined us for this year’s lobby day!

It’s not too late to make a difference by taking action as part of our virtual lobby day, just click here.

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If You Build It, They Will Come: Relationships with Lawmakers

There’s a saying often used when referencing the act of sales which can also be applied to advocacy: It all comes down to relationships.

As an advocate, building relationships with elected officials is the number one way you can ensure that lawmakers across your state are educated on the issues most important to you. You’re the Cure advocates are given opportunities to strengthen their skills at building relationships with decision makers through the various advocacy activities offered while promoting AHA’s policy goals.

One key to building relationships with legislators is to understand their preferred method of receiving information. What are the best ways to reach out to them, communicate with them, and follow up with them? Sometimes, the timing of communication can be one of the more important variables. VA Delegate Christopher Peace [R – New Kent] suggests that getting in touch with him at his local office is best: "Usually, setting a meeting in my Mechanicsville District Office prior to session sets a more relaxed environment in which a citizen advocate may express to me their thoughts on issues of importance to them and about legislative matters that may arise during the impending session."

Not sure what your legislator prefers? Make a call to their legislative assistant—not only will they be able to direct you, but developing a relationship with this "gatekeeper" can also help you form a better relationship with your lawmaker!

Additionally, sometimes your elected officials will be the ones to reach out to you directly.  NC Representative Becky Carney [D-Mecklenburg] said that in her opinion, the best way to communicate with her constituents is for them to "set up a meeting to talk about the issues that people have, or their concerns.  I prefer talking with people – communicating with me through email is a great way, [including] phone numbers so that I can call them back. Personal dialogue is sometimes better than written dialogue."

Your legislators know that advocates are vital for them to keep a finger on the pulse of their communities back home.

Councilmember-At-Large David Grosso [I-District of Columbia] shared his perspective: "Advocates are a major driving force in the legislative process. They are boots on the ground and know intricately those issues that impact different populations and communities. I want to know what their specific concerns are. As a member of the legislative body, sometimes we have a 30,000 ft. view of issues, but the advocates help us to focus on the nuance and intricacies of various matters. Having that perspective is invaluable because it enables us to tailor laws and regulations to the specific needs of the communities that we serve. Through our relationship with advocates, we are able to identify the areas where we can have the greatest impact, ensuring that we are serving a wide demographic in the most effective and efficient ways possible."

Through the voice of their constituents, elected officials are in a much better position to stay updated with a focused view of what's happening in their communities.

From DC, Maryland, Virginia, and into the Carolinas, our legislative bodies may look different; however, at the end of the day we are all people, one and the same. Our elected officials have important jobs where they represent us by making decisions that ultimately affect our daily life – but their main focus is their constituents.

If you’re up to it today, we would like to challenge you to use this information and take action. Send an email, make a phone call, or schedule a time to meet with your legislator today! Your elected officials are ready and willing to get to know you and what is important to you and your community!

A special thanks to Councilmember-At-Large Grosso [I-District of Columbia], VA Delegate Christopher Peace [R – New Kent], and NC Representative Becky Carney [D-Mecklenburg] for their contributions to this piece.

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Dr. Amie Hsia

Dr. Amie Hsia, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

How do you build a passion for stroke?  Dr. Amie Hsia is absolutely driven to reduce the gap in knowledge about stroke awareness. As a stroke fellow at Stanford University, Hsia was asked to work on stroke issues in the community. She was staggered by the lack of understanding about stroke in the community, and has since worked to reduce those disparities.

Hsia now serves as Medical Director of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Stroke Center, and has partnered with American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) in their shared mission to increase stroke awareness and to assist community members in utilizing available resources. Hsia hopes that community members can gain a basic level of awareness before they are faced with an emergency situation. She says, “Even if people think they aren’t at risk, it may affect people around them, whether that is family members, coworkers, or friends.”

In addition to the great challenge of increasing awareness in the community, Dr. Hsia quickly realized the importance of improving health policies locally. Her passion has made her a key AHA/ASA advocate for important legislation in the District. Her credentials and extensive knowledge base allow her to contribute reliable testimony to legislators as they evaluate policies related to cardiovascular disease and stroke. She recently testified at a D.C. City Council hearing in support of the Telehealth Reimbursement Act. “It was a key opportunity to have a voice,” Hsia said of the experience.

Along with AHA/ASA, Dr. Hsia has celebrated the victories achieved in increasing stroke awareness and level of care. These successes have encouraged her to continue working with AHA/ASA and to devote her time and resources to make positive changes in the community. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hsia and colleagues running a stroke awareness event for the community

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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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Seventy Percent of NC Voters Support Funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On February 24, the NC Alliance for Health (North Carolina’s statewide coalition working on obesity and tobacco use prevention) released a statewide survey that shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, a similar majority says that state and local governments should provide training and incentives to encourage neighborhood stores, where people often shop for groceries, to stock healthy foods.

"According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors," said Sarah Jacobson, Healthy Food Access Coordinator for the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and You’re the Cure advocate. "This clearly demonstrates that it is time to stop talking about this issue and start doing something about it," she said.

"Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove a barrier to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization," said Jacobson.

The poll also found:

· More than 90 percent of registered North Carolina voters recognize childhood obesity and unhealthy eating as a serious problem
· Seventy-six percent of registered North Carolina voters favor state and local governments providing training and incentives to encourage corner store owners to stock and sell more healthy foods and beverages
· One half (50 percent) of registered voters view access to grocery stores in low to moderate income areas in both urban and rural communities as a serious or somewhat serious problem
· The fact that healthy foods are not affordable was identified as the most significant barrier to improving access to healthy foods in both urban and rural areas
· Lack of nutritional education and poor economic conditions were identified as significant barriers to healthy eating

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities—known as food deserts—often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.

"I was particularly pleased that once those being polled learned more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the support level jumped to 76 percent. This clearly shows North Carolinians are ready for action," said Jacobson.

The American Heart Association is working with the NC Alliance for Health to promote a healthy corner store statewide initiative.

For more information about the poll:

o Poll  Executive Summary

o Poll information packet

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It's Nice to Share

  

Sharing is nice, we learned in kindergarten, and here’s where it can really count.  It’s super-easy to share our grassroots network with your friends and family, so their voices can help support CVD legislation too. 

We seriously need to reach the people who understand something about cardiovascular diseases and/or stroke – and, think about it, who do you know who does not have a connection somehow to someone directly impacted?  The people in your social networks care about you, and you can help inspire them to care about our mission.    

Simply post our video on your social media with this text, or something similar of your own:

Please help me build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, through grassroots advocacy.  It’s for us and our loved ones.  Please join and support the cause – I’ll appreciate it personally.  You could easily wind up helping someone you know.  It’s fast, and it’s easy to be an active part of the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network: www.yourethecure.org

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you know how quickly a post disappears down the queue …please bookmark this and consider re-posting periodically so more of your network has a chance to respond. 

You can also click the Share button that pops up on our website after you’ve taken action on an alert to effortlessly push the message to social media. Every time!

Please don’t think this is not important just because it’s not driving a particular policy.  Our impact as a grassroots network is only as strong as its number of active voices: the people willing to take the time to help drive messages to their legislators. 

Share to help our mission!  This act helps significantly to make our network a force to be reckoned with. 

  

 

<Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/76535310@N00>

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Juddson Rupp

Juddson Rupp, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I didn’t remember anything from my week in the hospital, but when a friend brought in a copy of the six o’clock news from October 27, 2000 I quickly realized that either that was a slow news day or that I was one lucky miracle survivor with an important story to share.

"Being at the right place at the right time and near the right equipment may have been a real life saver for a man working out at the YMCA,” the TV anchor began. Her co-anchor added, "Judd Rupp, not your typical heart attack victim - he's in his 30's and was at the gym.  Thanks to some people who knew exactly what to do, he's alive today."

Reporter Steve Litz brought the story to a close saying: "Two important notes to add- It was difficult identifying Judd Rupp as he was not wearing any kind of I.D.  Everything worked in Rupp's favor at the YMCA because so many know CPR there.  Another note, Juddson Rupp is an employee here at WSOC-TV.  We all wish him well in his recovery."

After getting choked up watching news clips like the one above a decade ago, I knew that internally and externally my life had changed.  I could no longer be a just a private citizen.   I had to share my story publicly for several reasons.  I now strongly believe that being and advocate and sharing your story is an important duty as a survivor.

The American Heart Association approached me to ask if they could use my story for the upcoming Heart Ball.  The Marketing Director told me that sharing my story could help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives through the years.  Then the publicity became a 'no-brainer' for me.  Why wouldn't I help save others by informing people to learn CPR or by encouraging them to purchase AED's and stop cardiovascular disease with added research and funding?

After the initial Heart Ball work in 2001, I was asked to be in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that ran on Charlotte TV stations and throughout the Carolinas in a commercial also featuring my wife and two children urging people to 'Learn CPR...it can save lives!'  I became the poster boy for the American Heart Association, as my wife had joked.  She also knew that I was honored to do this and practically anything to help AHA grow its cause...and be the cure.

My volunteer time and work became even more empowering after meeting Betsy Vetter in 2004.  She asked me to join You’re the Cure, and become an advocate for AHA.  My initial role had me traveling to Washington, DC and visiting with Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill.  I am proud to say that I have not missed an AHA Federal Lobby Day since.

Since then I have held multiple roles including communications/media chair for the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, a member of the AHA Charlotte Mission Committee, and co-chair of the Smoke-free Mecklenburg Advocacy Committee. I have also been active with Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the Heart Ball, and attended numerous state lobby days at the General Assembly in Raleigh where I share my personal experience with state lawmakers to help them better understand the importance of supporting strong public health policies.

Speaking with countless legislators and their staff to put a face on heart disease, and fight for so many who are not with us anymore is the most empowering reason I do this.  

*On December 14, 2013 Juddson was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence which honored all of his advocacy work at the American Heart Association.

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Diana Cook, North Carolina

Diana Cook, North Carolina

As a veteran volunteer with the American Heart Association, Diana Cook has been involved in a myriad of ways with the organization over the years. As a Charlotte Heart Walk team leader, she led her work team several years in a row – and every year provided countless volunteers to help with the walk. As a You’re the Cure Advocate, and as a NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, she has volunteered for countless National and State Lobby Days, trainings, and advocacy opportunities.

There is more to Diana than just her volunteerism. She has experience personal loss at the hands of cardiovascular disease and stroke. After losing her father to emphysema, then a dear friend who had just turned 40 passed away due to a sudden stroke two weeks later, she spent a long time of wondering why her friend’s symptoms had gone misdiagnosed. Diana connected with Betsy Vetter and found her passion with AHA and a home with You’re the Cure. As her work with YTC began, Diana was able to join the Smoke-Free Mecklenburg team as a co-chair, and worked with that initiative promoting smoke-free both locally and then at the state level. It was her friend, and her father, who kept Diana engaged with the American Heart Association and kept her inspired to make a difference.

If you were to ask Diana why she volunteers with the AHA, she would tell you that beginning with her Heart Walk experience and including her time as an advocate with You’re the Cure, her experience has become personal. "Advocacy was the "rescue," if you will, that I needed during a traumatic time after my Dad and best friend died," she says. "It helped me to put my energy into something positive that honored them at the same time.  The experience was effecting a positive change for our state of North Carolina to get smoke free restaurants passed and providing vital information to women on heart and stroke disease."

It is advocates like Diana, who join us in You’re the Cure and see what an infinite difference they make in the lives of those around them, that make our network as strong and as passionate as it is. Thank you to Diana, and to all of our advocates, for making a difference and saving lives.

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Imagine!

Christina Bryan, You’re the Cure advocate, recently shared some words of wisdom with us, "My parents, life-long chain smokers, died prematurely as a direct result of their smoking addiction.  As a heart attack survivor, I have never smoked and advise current smokers to quit immediately and non-smokers to never start.  Don't put yourself in harm's way."

On Wednesday, February 25 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our state’s smoke-free law. As advocates we are building a healthier world.

Yet cigarette smoking continues to be the leading preventable risk factor for chronic disease. Did you know that overall tobacco use among North Carolina high school students increased from 25.8% to 29.7% between 2011 and 2013? During that same time period, the use of electronic cigarettes by North Carolina high school students increased 352%, from 1.7% to 7.7%. These statistics are going in the wrong direction.

Now imagine having a generation of kids that don’t become addicted to tobacco.

Tell your lawmakers to support funding for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

In the last 50 years, 20 million Americans have died prematurely due to tobacco-caused illnesses. Currently North Carolina provides no state funding for tobacco use prevention and only $1.2 million for QuitlineNC.

We need your help to urge our lawmakers to fund tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

What do you IMAGINE for North Carolina’s tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs?

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