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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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You're the Cure Advocates Go Red!

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s campaign to raise awareness about women’s risk of cardiovascular disease and empower them to take control of their heart health.  It is a year-long campaign that culminates in February for Heart Month.  All of the markets within the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate celebrate with events throughout February and into the spring.

Advocacy work goes hand in hand with the Go Red For Women movement in many ways.  One way is our advocates work with their local government officials on proclamations that declare the first Friday in February as Wear Red Day.  In North Carolina, the town of Matthews, Huntersville, Cary, and Winston-Salem passed proclamations.  As did Spartanburg and Columbia in South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. 

The District of Columbia took their support of Wear Red Day to the next level with several local councilmembers taking to social media to express their office-wide support.   Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau of Ward 1, Jack Evans of Ward 2, and Charles Allen in Ward 6 sent out tweets to their followers of their offices dressed to the gills in their finest red. Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander emailed her constituents to urge them to be diligent in keeping their lives free of cardiovascular disease with helpful tips and facts. 

Another great example happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, when advocate Dr. Sandra Burke presented to the Mecklenburg County Board of Directors about heart health and continuing collaborative efforts to improve the health of the local community.  And here, the women of the Virginia General Assembly went red on 2/9 to bring awareness to heart disease.  

Go Red is a nationwide movement that unifies communities in prevention and education about the risk factors and warning signs of cardiovascular disease.  We are proud of the policies and changes you are influencing to make strides toward a world where we are free of heart disease and stroke.

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Amy Edmunds

Amy Edmunds, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Opening doors has been the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience. Since experiencing ischemic stroke in 2002, I have been an actively engaged volunteer throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Undoubtedly, the first door to open was my own! It has been an amazing transition to evolve from volunteer to spokesperson. But You're the Cure's comprehensive advocacy training helped hone my message and presentation to enable me to comfortably address the Rally for Medical Research last year to urge Congress to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. And, it was a treat to meet with AHA's CEO Nancy Brown and NIH's Executive Director Dr. Francis Collins!

Please, join me at hour 1, minute 15 to hear my message.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For me, You're the Cure has afforded the opportunity to champion issues related to stroke among young adults from a local to national platform. Over the years, I have not only participated in numerous local Heart Walks, HeartBalls, and Go Red For Women events but also statewide lobby initiatives, national taskforces and Lobby Days. And, yes... even to the White House as a briefing attendee.

So, go ahead and open the door to opportunity... for yourself as well as for those you love!

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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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We Are Making Things Happen in South Carolina!

We are excited to kick off 2016 in South Carolina!  This year, session is expected to be eventful and productive.  Please check out our legislative priorities below.  We hope you will join us as we continue our exciting and life-saving work in the Palmetto State!

CPR Training in Schools
Require Hands-Only CPR training as part of the already required health education class for high school students.  Right now, less than 11% of people suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, and training a new class of young citizens in CPR every year can change this frightening statistic. 

We’ll also be working to: 

  • Require schools to implement the beverage and snack guidelines in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interim Final Rule Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools.
  • Fully fund the Stroke Systems of Care Act of 2011 setting up a statewide stroke registry. Data analysis from the registry will ensure stroke patients receive the best available care for their condition.
  • Require Medicaid to cover cessation services for current tobacco users including both counseling and pharmacotherapy with no or minimal cost sharing.

Also, please be sure to watch your email for upcoming opportunities to join us in 2016!  Kim Chidester, your Grassroots Director, will be traveling across the state (from Columbia to Charleston!) to offer 3 in-person Advocacy Training Sessions.  As these dates and locations are set, we will be sure to let you know so you can mark your calendars.

Thanks for being by our side!  We couldn’t do this without you. You’re the Cure advocates work to support and advocate for public policies that will help improve the cardiovascular health of Americans and reduce deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke.   If our voice is loud enough this session, we can impact the lives of South Carolinians for many years to come! 

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Neal Reynolds

Neal Reynolds, Maryland

Neal Reynolds was never an active advocate until his passion for telemedicine collided with a policy opportunity. As a physician who has spent a lot of time over the years working in hospital intensive care units, he has unique insight into how policy change for telemedicine would save lives. "It's very powerful to work at this level, where you can push for legislation that would change entire systems of care for maximum impact. I am excited about broadening the scope of telemedicine through public policy opportunities, bringing treatment to people who might not otherwise receive it."

Neal (center top in photo) says he was initially intimidated by the legislative process, but AHA staff helped him with what to do and how to approach legislators. When asked how he would counsel other You're the Cure members to prepare themselves for a higher level of advocacy, he offered these words of advice: 

  • Realize you don't have to be afraid of it. Swallow any discomfort, do your homework and you'll do fine.
  • Find someone who knows the ropes, like I did with AHA's Government Relations Director in Maryland, and let them guide you. 
  • Be honest and sincere. Share the passion you have for the issue and make it personal when you talk about it.

Neal wrote letters and provided written testimony to help legislators understand the importance of the telemedicine bills. "The legislators wanted my input, even asked what they could do to help! I wish I'd known about this avenue for change years ago."

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Get Social With Your Members of Congress

Will you be on Facebook or Twitter today? Your Members of Congress and their staff will be, and it's a good place to reach them according to a report released in October by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF).

The CMF report, #SocialCongress, says Congressional offices are listening to social media chatter and it takes relatively few posts or comments to get their attention. That's good news for us!

So, how can you use the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline to get the attention of lawmakers and help pass heart healthy policies?

  • Follow your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials on Twitter. ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ their pages on Facebook.
  • Tweet about our health policy issues, tagging the appropriate legislators by using the @ sign and their Twitter handle. For example: I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’d tag my U.S. Senators by including @SenBobCasey & @SenToomey in my tweet.
  • If they allow it, you can post about our issues directly on the Facebook pages of elected officials. Frequently, that feature is disabled but you are able to comment on their posts. According to #SocialCongress, Congressional offices typically monitor those comments for a limited period of time. Your best bet is to comment within the first 24 hours after a post.
  • Rally your friends and family members to tweet, post or comment about an issue on a single ‘day of action’. CMF’s survey data shows just 30 or fewer comments can be enough to make a legislative office pay attention.
  • Be sure to use the campaign hashtag if one has been created by your advocacy staff partners. The #hashtag allows all the relevant posts to be woven together to tell our story, and makes your post searchable by others interested in the issue.    

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Is Social Media Your Thing?

 

Are you a regular user of Facebook or Twitter?  You don’t know how valuable you could be to our mission! 

You could help us expand our reach and inspire others to help just by sharing our blog posts, online action alerts, and other items related to our mission. 

So easy, but so valuable!!  In just moments - from the comfort of your own home (or wherever!) - you can be helping to drive our mission. 

Us:  Want to get on our list as a dedicated Social Media Advocate? 

You:  Well, what would I actually have to do?

Us: Check our pages a couple times a week and re-share what you find.  Post specific sharing requests sent to you by email whenever you can.  Encourage others to share, and to take action on the posts when it’s appropriate as well.

You:  Oh, that sounds easy.  I can do that, no problem!  Sign me up.

UsYAY, that’s awesome!  Thank you! 

What a simple way to support the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and our You’re the Cure efforts. 

Ready? 
• Virginia, Maryland, and DC peeps email keltcie.delamar@heart.org
• North Carolina and South Carolina peeps email kim.chidester@heart.org

We’ll connect back to provide you the scoop you’ll need to get rolling! 

Know anyone else who might like to help? Share this blogpost with friends and family who are motivated to help us make change happen!

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Frank Amend

Frank Amend, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Frank Amend had never even heard of the American Heart Association before 2003.  That’s when at 41 years old he underwent a heart catherization procedure to have four stents implanted in his coronary arteries.  Frank actually joined the American Heart Association’s advocacy network by a fluke - when another volunteer could not attend national lobby day in Washington, DC, Frank’s cardiologist recommended him.  In 2006 Frank required triple bypass surgery and he has been active in grassroots advocacy ever since.

While starting as a member and then taking increasing senior roles in North Carolina’s grassroots advocacy program, Frank had the opportunity to assist in the development of the state organization’s leadership structure and then help guide the group’s initial efforts.  One of his fondest memories was seeing North Carolina’s passage of House Bill 2, which banned smoking in all restaurants and bars in the state.  Although Frank stated that he came to work on this initiative during its later stages, he praises all the hard work contributed by the different members of the NC Alliance for Health as well as all the entire AHA NC grass roots organization that enabled the bill to be enacted.  In recognition of all his work within the organization, Frank was awarded the American Heart Associations’ National Survivor of the Year Award in 2009.

Although Frank joined the advocacy committee by accident, he hasn’t regretted a single minute.  He cherishes the friendships that he has made along with the important work that he and his fellow advocates have accomplished throughout the years.  Most importantly, Frank enjoys witnessing the passion that people possess while advocating; especially the caregivers of those affected by cardiovascular disease. He feels strongly that volunteers are an integral part of the American Heart Association; as they, the AHA employees, and the medical community all work in synergy to put heart disease in the forefront of public health issues. 

For those affected by heart disease/stroke, Frank encourages everyone to get involved and give back.  He says survivors can have such a positive impact volunteering and making their voices heard about heart disease and its prevention.  In our brief conversation, he stated that: "In my years as an AHA volunteer, I have received so much more in return for the seemingly small, in comparison, effort that I expended.  I’ve spoken at presidential health care task force meetings, was appointed to Governor Purdue’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce, personally lobbied legislators in Raleigh and Washington, DC to further the goals of the AHA, and am currently serving on the Justice Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Taskforce by Governor McCory’s appointment. Me - just a simple guy from Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  With all that though, it’s the relationships with fellow advocates and AHA staff that mean the most to me and my wife.  I have been enriched so much by the interaction with my fellow advocates and look forward to our meetings where we can pool our individual expertise to really make a difference."

Frank is a busy man who, along with all of the above mentioned, also enjoys working in the yard, reading, going to the beach, and traveling with his wife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank and his daughter, Julia.

Advocate interview provided by Blog Contributor Amanda Orfitelli.

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We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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