Guest Blogger: Amber Johnson
My name is Amber, my daughter Laurelei and I are American Heart Association volunteer advocates, as well as congenital heart disease survivors. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the AHA’s National You’re the Cure on the Hill Lobby Day in Washington DC just a few short weeks ago with our local American Heart representative Amanda Cahill.
Having received our life changing diagnoses just two and a half years ago, raising awareness about heart health and the prevalence of heart disease has become a priority in our lives. At Lobby Day, Laurelei, Amanda, and I had the opportunity to train with advocates and representatives from all over the nation, learn in greater detail about the current legislative issues relevant to heart health, and meet in person with our Senators and Representatives to share our personal story and voice our concerns.
This year, You’re the Cure had two areas of focus: first, we asked our legislators to support a 10% increase in National Institutes of Health funding and the House 21st Century Cures bill, which would direct a significant portion of that funding to heart disease and stroke research. The current funding is dramatically disproportionate to the need.
Secondly, we asked Senator Tester, Congressman Zinke, and Senator Daines to protect the progress which has been made with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), which has been and continues to be successfully implemented in 100% of Montana schools, and 95% nationwide. The strides which have been made with HHFKA have a significant impact on rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, impacting future generations with healthy eating habits for life.
To see my daughter, at 11 years old, get involved, learn to speak up, turn her challenges into triumphs, and begin learning about the difference one voice can make was a priceless experience. To be there by her[EP1] side, sharing my story and the importance of heart health research to me only increased my gratitude. We are the face of heart disease, but we are also the cure.