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State Advocacy Committee News Update

On November 21, the North Carolina American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee met to celebrate achievements, bestow advocacy honors and discuss policy priorities. The committee had much to celebrate this year including the passage of stroke center designation rules, advancement of the healthy corner store initiative legislation, and significant progress in local communities for healthy vending and tobacco control policies.

During the meeting, the committee recognized three individuals for their advocacy efforts that help advance the AHA mission.


  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Friend Award was presented to Senator Don Davis for his leadership to advance HB 250/SB 296 Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.
  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Champion Award was presented to Drexdal Pratt, Director of Health Service Regulation for his work for more than a decade to promote high impact policies that save lives including the Good Samaritan laws, stroke and STEMI transport protocols, stroke center designation, and pulse oximetry screening.
  • The 2015 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence was presented to Valerie King for her strong leadership in You’re the Cure.

This meeting also provided time to recognize the 2014-2016 Committee for their service and install the 2016-2018 NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Juddson Rupp and Yolanda Dickerson will co-chair the committee for the next term. The committee works closely with AHA staff partners to provide strategic leadership for the NC AHA advocacy program and coordinates You’re the Cure activities including state lobby day.

Committee members spent time discussing the top priorities for 2016. Efforts will continue to advance HB 250/SB 296 with full funding to create a statewide healthy corner store initiative. In addition, You’re the Cure will be working to expand affordable health insurance to those caught in the coverage gap with no other options available to them. Locally efforts will continue to promote healthy vending policies local governments to ensure employees have access to healthy food choices while at work.

If you are interested in learning more about the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, please contact Betsy Vetter.

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Advocates Raise Awareness of Stroke

In honor of stroke awareness, the City of Austin has proclaimed October 29th, 2015 as World Stroke Day. On October 14th Austin Mayor Pro Tem, Kathie Tovo, presented the World Stroke Day proclamation to Chris Figureida, the cyclist behind Cycle for Heart. Chris has traveled thousands of miles around the world on his bike to raise awareness for the American Heart Association. His athleticism has helped to educate children, from across the country, on how a healthy and active lifestyle can prevent heart disease and stroke. Chris was joined by a handful of volunteers from the AHA’s Austin Grassroots Action Team.

The World Stroke Day Proclamation was also presented on World Stroke Day at Seton Medical Center Austin, in celebration of their Stroke Awareness Graffiti Project. A giant 8’x8’ mural will display, ‘F.A.S.T’, the universal acronym for stroke warning signs.

‘F’ stands for facial drooping, ‘A’ is for arm weakness, ‘S’ is for speech difficulty and ‘T’ stands for time to call 9-1-1! Seton’s Stroke Institute has expanded their program to include designated stroke treatment floors at Seton Medical Center Austin and UMC Brackenridge, it has enhanced clinical and research divisions, and will soon conduct clinical trials to study newer treatments for acute stroke and stroke prevention.

Advocating in North Texas

At the October 27th Fort Worth City Council meeting, Mayor Betsy Price presented the World Stroke Day 2015 proclamation to AHA/ASA volunteers and staff on behalf of the entire Council, thereby proclaiming October 29th, 2015, as World Stroke Day in Fort Worth.

Before reading the proclamation, Mayor Price stepped off the dais to greet the members of the AHA/ASA group. She commented that a few months ago the Council addressed heart disease, and now was the time to address stroke. In trying to create healthy communities, she is committed to reducing the incidence of stroke. Mayor Price related a story of a friend who had a stroke just four weeks ago at age 51, and fortunately received help in time because he was on the phone with a friend who knew the symptoms of stroke. The Mayor encouraged everyone to know the symptoms of TIA and stroke. She then read the proclamation and presented it to volunteer Nancy Healey.

Nancy, a stroke survivor from Fort Worth, accepted the proclamation and spoke for a few minutes about her experience with stroke and her passion for making a difference. Her stroke was due to secondhand smoke exposure, so she commented on her desire to help make Fort Worth smoke free. Nancy expressed her gratitude to Mayor Price and the City Council for their recognition of World Stroke Day, and then the whole group posed with Mayor Price for a photo.

Thank you to volunteers Nancy Healey, Gwen Diggs, Ray Balandran, Elodia Perez, Tara Robinson, Jeanne Steffancin, Leigh Anne Harville, and Sharon Eberlein, and staff members Brian Brooks (Tarrant County Communications Director) and Laci Pippin (Youth Market Specialist) for showing their support for World Stroke Day!


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Chris McLachlin - Hawaii advocate helps to organize golf event for stroke survivors

Over a dozen Oahu stroke survivors and their caregivers participated in the inaugural American Heart Association Saving Strokes event held at the Ko Olina Golf Club on Oct. 21. The event was funded through a generous grant from the H.T. Hayashi Foundation.

AHA You’re The Cure advocate Chris McLachlin, himself a stroke survivor, worked with the AHA’s staff to help organize the event. Below are a few words from him on the event:

The AHA staff approached me about helping to organize the event because of my background as both a stroke survivor, and my connections to golf since my son Parker plays on the professional tour. Parker’s first coach is Greg Nichols, the general manager and director of golf at Ko Olina Golf Club. I know that Greg is service- and community-minded, so it was easy for me to call him and ask his club to host the event.
Greg’s staff was tremendous in accommodating both survivors with limited disability, as well as those with more severe disability. They were great at teaching basic skills in putting, chipping and driving the ball. The stroke survivors who I spoke with after the event expressed great satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment in doing something that they didn’t before think that they could do. You could see their self-confidence grow, as well as the collegiality formed between them, the pros, and their caregivers. It was an exciting event and I’m looking forward to helping organize another one here in Hawaii.

Thank you Chris for everything you do for the AHA. Without volunteers like you we couldn't do what we do.

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.


As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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When New Yorkers Can't Eat Healthy Foods...

The first Wednesday in November is National Eating Healthy Day!  It's a great opportunity to take stock of our eating habits, and perhaps do a bit more to feed ourselves and our families healthier foods.  For about 1.7 million New Yorkers, however, that is easier said than done.  More than half of New York's counties are home to neighborhoods without access to healthy foods.  You read that right - 1.7 million New Yorkers, in 32 counties, are burdened with a lack of food markets or corner stores offering fresh, healthy foods.  In honor of the event, help us send a strong message to Governor Cuomo that he should invest in the health and economy of New York.  Click here to take action and send your email to the Governor now!

Help the AHA improve access to healthy foods so every New Yorker has the opportunity to celebrate National Eating Healthy Day!

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Rhode Island Stroke Experts Gather at NECC Summit

Thanks to the leadership of the Rhode Island Senate, Rhode Island House of Representatives, Rhode Island Department of Health, Rhode Island Stroke Task Force, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and You’re the Cure advocates – Rhode Island is considered a national model for stroke care.  Experts from our state recently gathered at the 10th Annual Summit of The NorthEast Cerebrovascular Consortium (NECC) to discuss next steps.

The annual educational summit attracts over 300 stroke professionals from across the eight Northeast states and across the stroke continuum of care. The two-day event includes evidence based education through plenary and breakout sessions (topics focusing on EMS, Rehabilitation and Nurses), poster presentations and excellent networking.  This year’s summit topics included: Integrating the Latest Guidelines into Practice, Endovascular Strategies, Future Landscape for EMS, Telemedicine in EM, Dehydration, Blood Pressure Management for Stroke Patients, Stroke Camp/Stroke Support Groups, ICU/Critical Care, Cryptogenic Stroke and Palliative Care.

The NECC is a voluntary-led regional consortium that has developed its own structure and guidelines with the support of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Over 50 volunteers make up the groups and committees who work year round to develop a strategic plan and implement pilot projects to address recommendations around seven areas focused on stroke including prevention, community education, notification and response of EMS, acute stroke treatment, subacute care and secondary prevention, rehabilitation and continuous quality improvement.

For more information visit



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Patty Lang, New Jersey

Patty Lang is a two time stroke survivor and a passionate You're the Cure advocate. She is also very involved in the Go Red for Women movement as a survivor ambassador as well as volunteering at numerous Heart Walks. She was recognized for her efforts when she was awarded the American Heart Association Garden State Go Red for Women Woman of Distinction award in 2014.

Recently, Patty was involved in an effort to secure proclamations to commemorate World Stroke Day on October 29. Patty was successful in obtaining a resolution from the New Jersey Legislature and proclamation from both the Mayor of Monroe Township and Governor Chris Christie recognizing October 29, 2015 as World Stroke Day.

Patty’s passion and dedication to helping raising awareness around heart disease and stroke is inspiring others to make changes and live healthier. Thank you Patty!

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Should New York Pursue a Tax on Sugary Drinks?

Hi, everyone!

My name is Pam Bonney and I'm a member of the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in New York. I wanted to share my thoughts about a recent editorial from the New York Times (What a Big Tax on Soft Drinks Can Do- 10/19/15).  

Overconsumption of sugary beverages is a global problem and the overdose of sugar consumption in the American diet is a major contributing cause of this country’s alarming rate of obesity. Unfortunately, we exist in a time in which we are drinking most of our calories.

Consuming large quantities of sugary drinks can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. One significant intervention that must be considered is to increase the retail price of sugary drinks. As the Times editors described, Mexico levied a peso per liter tax in 2013, and sales of sugary beverages were reduced by 12 percent when compared with the previous year. 

New York leaders could certainly improve public health by following Mexico’s lead and implement an excise tax on sugary drinks. Such a tax is a necessary tool to motivate healthier beverage selection. Imagine the impact to our health and our economy!

What do you think?  Should New York state implement an excise tax on sugary drinks?

- Pam

Pamela Bonney, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition and Health Consultant, Co-founder, Tried and True Nutrition, Inc.

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Join the Patient Support Network Today!

Improve your life and the lives of others when you join the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Support Network, a virtual support community. Share your experiences. Give and get emotional support. Our communities and conversations offer survivors, caregivers and family members a place to ask a question, share concerns or fears, provide helpful tips, and find encouragement and inspiration. Whether you are a heart disease or stroke survivor or someone who loves them, our goal is to connect you with others who are going through similar journeys. Join the network today!

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