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Nancy Birnbaum

I recently met You're the Cure advocate Nancy Birnbaum, a registered nurse who resides in College Station, Texas at the Advocating for Heart event at the Capitol. I loved the passion and enthusiasm she showed for the AHA mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. I chatted with Nancy to learn more about her and why she Advocates for Heart. 

Here's what she had to say:

I do what I can with the time that I have. What I love about the American Heart Association is that there are a lot of avenues to finding your fit. I started volunteering with the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon in College Station and found it especially easy and convenient to respond to action alerts. I like how easy it is to personalize the letter to the lawmaker and I make sure to include a comment as a nurse and a mother. As a mother of 4 grown daughters and grandmother of 9 children, I am passionate about fighting childhood obesity and keep school nutrition standards strong and healthy! I'm a proponent of healthy living so I wanted to get more involved with AHA's advocacy efforts. I decided to take a trip to Austin to participate in Advocating for Heart. Everyone I met was friendly and made it easy to visit with lawmakers and staff. 

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Stroke Smart Legislation Signed by Gov. Mary Fallin

On June 10th, Governor Mary Fallin held a ceremonial bill signing of House Bill 1463, by Representative Elise Hall and Senator Jason Smalley. This bill updates the current statute regarding the development of a system of a care for stroke in Oklahoma to include evidence-based recommendations, such as EMS protocols, that will help get stroke patients the quality care that they need more quickly. 

This ceremonial bill signing served as an opportunity to celebrate this achievement and recognize those that were involved in many steps of the legislative process.  Such individuals included Dr. Anna Wanahita, Co-Director of St John Health System’s Stroke Center and Oklahoma State Advocacy Committee Member, Richard Boone President of St. John Health System Foundation,  and Justin McLaughlin ,Vice-President of St. John Health System Foundation,  as well as Dr. Carolyn Synovitz, Physician and President of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. 

Additionally, the impact of this legislation was felt as stroke survivors and advocates, Donna McDannold, Donna Roy, and Kaven Kendrick and his wife Debbie Kendrick, were also in attendance to thank Governor Fallin for her support of stroke care.  Central Oklahoma Sweetheart and Jr. Miss Indian Oklahoman, Faithlyn Seawright, also in attendance, spoke to how stroke has impacted her family. Americana Heart Association (AHA) staff in attendance included, Senior Government Relations Director, Naomi Amaha-Gollnick, Quality and Systems Improvement Director, Katie Butterfield, Senior Executive Director, Debbie Hite, Communications Director, Calley Herth, Heart Walk Corporate Market Director, Emily Wade, and AHA contract lobbyists, Michelle Sutton and Jeramy Rich.

Prior to the bill signing, stakeholders and volunteers participated in a small reception and talked about their respective experience with stroke. Prior to the ceremonial signing and group photo, volunteers and advocates had an opportunity to meet with Governor Mary Fallin and thank her for her support for improving stroke care.

Once Governor Mary Fallin “signed” the bill into law, a group photo was taken. Before our group’s departure, Rep. Elise Hall and Sen. Jason Smalley were thanked by the group for their support and leadership on House Bill 1463. 

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Happy Heart Hour in OKC!

On Thursday, June 18th the Voice for Healthy Kids, Oklahoma City team held a Happy Heart Hour with the hopes of deepening the involvement of existing volunteers and creating some excitement around the campaign for a healthier Oklahoma City! 

They ran an approximately 20 minute program to include an AHA/Advocacy overview, an overview of the Healthy Corner Store campaign, and a wonderful short speech on the impact of volunteering by former AHA employee and lifelong Oklahoman, Jennifer Seal. 

At the end of the program it was announced that if anyone was interested in meeting one-on-one over coffee to discuss future involvement, that they could drop their business card in a coffee mug on the sign-in table, and several attendees did.

To learn more about the event and how you can be involved, please email Samantha.Bender@heart.org

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Advocates Turn the Hill Red!

Over 380 advocates met in Washington, DC for You're the Cure on the Hill to step up for heart health. Our group of dedicated advocates met with 293 legislative offices throughout the day to advocate for increased research funding and healthy school meals. Advocates mingled with YTC networkers from throughout the nation and participated in an all day advocacy training and Heroes Luncheon. 

We know that as constituents, you truly make difference when you share your story and encourage our federal lawmakers to take action on critical health priorities. You drive our mission forward in building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. 

Check out a recap video of You're the Cure on the Hill 2015! 

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Announcing Leading Oklahoma Advocates!

We would like to recognize our Aces, Champion, and Hero advocates for their continued dedication in the fight against heart disease and stroke! Your time, energy, and passion has made all the difference in advancing our mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The below advocates have taken action by responding to action alerts, visiting legislative offices, participating in advocacy trainings, and signing petition cards, just to name a few. 

You can find your current ranking on the Community website under your profile. Check out our menu of activities here and see exactly how you can earn more points.

Oklahoma

Haley Allen
Naomi Amaha
Julie Avants
Julie Avants
Amy Baden
Kristen Baggerly
Terri Bailey
James Baker
Claudia Barajas
MaryAnn Bauman MD
Krissy Belyeu
Samantha Bender
Vivian Bingman
Lisa Blackburn
Lawrence Brewer
Patricia Brogan
Katie Butterfield
Darry Carlstone
Shannon Clarke
Petra Colindres
Harvey Conner
Rachel Crawford
Mechele Cruz
Marilyn Davidson
Julie Elerick
shante Fenner
Brandy Flewellen
Kerrie Frazier
Nancy Grayson
Barbara Hannah
Lindsey Hansen
Ashton Hardison
Joyce Hepler
Debbie Hite
Pamela Hollie
Misty Hsieh
Bill Humphrey
Chrissie Johnson
Carolyn Jones
Shelly Jordan
Jane Krizer
Mercedes Lackey
Michael Laird
Britni Lauzon
Karina Lora
Brandon Maples
Monica Martin
Lea May
Donna McDannold
Toni McGee
Calley McGehee Herth
Mark Meadors
Grace Medina
William Miller
Patrick Milligan
Gloria Moore
Steve Nguyen
Patricia Norris
Kevin Nowak
Mary Payne
Jennifer Phenix
Lyle Price
James Proszek
Melissa Ramirez
Georgina Riggs
Amanda Rowell
Fred Schmidt
Jennifer Seal
Christina Shay
Linda Slawson
Kathy Smarinsky
Michael Spain
Janet Spradlin
Amy Steelman
Carol Sterling
Jan Stevenson
Sherri Stewart
Robyn Sunday-Allen
Justin Thankachan
Elizabeth Tork
Anna Wanahita
Shelly Warren
Teresa Whited
Cindy Wilcox
Brenda Wiseman

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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.

Watch a video highlighting the 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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TAKE ACTION: Tell City Council that OKC Hearts Need Healthy Food

We’ve been talking a lot about food access lately, specifically how it needs improvement right here in OKC. Maybe you’ve been excited about helping to improve the situation, maybe you’ve been taking action, or maybe you’ve been asking yourself what does food access have to do with the American Heart Association?

If you fall into that third category, you’re not alone. The concept of food access can be confusing but the truth is, when it comes to heart health, food access matters every step of the way and you can help by taking action now!

CNN recently ranked lack of food access amongst America’s 9 biggest health issues. The article states, “It [lack of access] takes a real toll on their health. Families who live in these areas struggle more with obesity and chronic conditions, and they even die sooner than people who live in neighborhoods with easy access to healthy food.” Having access to healthy foods is detrimental to one’s heart health. It is both a before and after issue for cardiovascular related disease.

Being able to find affordable healthy foods is crucial in preventing heart disease and stroke, but it’s also necessary for proper recovery. Here in Oklahoma City, 62% of our citizens are classified as having low food access. This means finding healthy foods for their families is difficult, if not impossible. We want to change that. Our goal is to get nutritious, affordable foods into our neighborhood corner stores and convenience stores. This will help improve access to healthy snacks and meals for thousands of individuals and families every day, and will lead to improved health, lower incidence of chronic disease in our community, and ultimately lives saved as a result. This is why we are involved with this fight, and we hope that you will join us.

Please help by sending a letter to your City Council member telling them that proper access to healthy foods is important to you, your neighbors, and OKC hearts!


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