American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
You're Invited: Advocate for Heart at the Texas Capitol!

We’re recognizing American Stroke Month with a gathering of advocates and survivors at the Texas State Capitol. Please join us on Tuesday, May 17 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for a dynamic event featuring advocates that have come together to share their stories of survival.  

We invite you to join us to hear about the policy efforts of the American Heart Association and how YOU are the key to advancing those campaigns!  We look forward to seeing you at the Capitol, and would love to save a place for you!  Please click here to RSVP.

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Port Arthur Goes Smoke-Free!

Last Tuesday, April 5th, the Port Arthur City Council voted unanimously (9-0) in favor of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance! Port Arthur is now the 48th city in Texas to go smoke-free!

We are incredibly thankful for all our smoke-free supporters who sent emails, made calls, and testified before City Council. Your actions made this happen!

Once this ordinance goes into effect, Port Arthur residents and visitors will be able to enjoy their favorite places without the harmful effects of exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. Restaurant and bar workers will be able to breathe easier and live healthier lives.

We would not be here without the support and dedication of our You're the Cure advocates to making Port Arthur a healthier place to live.

Thank you!

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Meet Mary Mandel, Our You're the Cure Hero
Every day we take thousands of steps to get where we need to go. You're the Cure advocate Mary Mandel knows this and is advocating for everyone to take the step toward a healthier lifestyle!
Meet Mary: 
As a heart attack survivor, I know the importance of taking time to take care of yourself. Many Americans aren’t dedicating enough time for physical activity. And it means we’re at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. But we’re not going to take it sitting down! 
Join me and millions of Americans this month, as we pledge to live a healthier lifestyle and get physically active. Visit and use the American Heart Association’s free tips and tools to stay motivated on your walking program. 
  • Name:  Mary Mandel
  • Occupation:  Cardiac Medical Yoga Instructor
  • How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association and what is your volunteer role:  I have been volunteering since 2011.  I volunteer for Go Red for Women, and I am also on the Passion Committee.  This year, I am starting to volunteer for the Advocacy team and I have joined the Austin Grassroots Action Team.
  • Why do you advocate for Heart:  To build awareness and to saves lives!  I never thought I would be affected by heart disease, and it ended up nearly taking my life...twice!  Perhaps if I had seen another young, healthy woman speak about heart disease, I would have recognized the symptoms and I would have gone to the emergency room sooner, which would have prevented many of the heart issues I now live with and manage on a daily basis.
  • What is something in your life that you love:  I absolutely love seeing my little 5-year old boy grow into the smart, compassionate, sweetheart that he is.
  • What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off:  yoga, meditation, and drumming!
  • Fun Fact about yourself:  I have lived in nearly every corner of the world...Europe, Asia, South America and India.

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Lace Up & Go for National Walking Day!

Nowadays, we’re spending more time at work and sitting in front of a screen than ever before. We're becoming less active, which can increase our risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases.

You’re invited to join us as we lace up for a healthier life by taking part in the American Heart Association's National Walking Day. And no matter where you are in Texas, we have three ways you can get involved!


Join our Austin office's #WalkATX Instagram Challenge by following @ahaaustin on Instagram and participating in a full-day of photo challenges! Beginning at 8am, and every hour through 5pm, we'll be posting a different challenge, and every hour we'll be giving away a different prize!

Anyone can participate - just follow @ahaaustin on Instagram and stay tuned for hints until April 6!


Our Advocacy Team will host a special event with a walk around the Capitol grounds to promote active living on National Walking Day! We hope you can join us as we Step Up for Texas Health and kick off a month-long celebration designed to help us all become more active.

Event Details: What: Get moving for National Walking Day with a walk around the Capitol grounds. Immediately following, enjoy a heart healthy lunch sponsored by the AHA When: Wednesday, April 6th from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. Where: Meet at the South Steps of the Capitol at 11:30 am.

For additional details and to register, please visit:


You're invited to join us on Twitter for the American Heart Association’s Lace Up For Heart Health CEO Challenge! 10 local CEO's are lacing up and showing off their steps in this 24-hour challenge.

The challenge is meant to provide a fun way to promote walking, the simplest form of exercise. We encourage you to join @ahaaustin on Twitter in tracking your steps on National Walking Day using #WalkATX, and follow along for this fun, competitive event!

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Meet Mylan Shaunfield, Advocate for Health

We are thrilled to highlight one of our newest You're the Cure advocates, Mylan Shaunfield. He's been advocating for heart health in record speed. Mylan has shown his passion through participating in Advocating for Heart events at the Capitol, and has even been known to drop by legislative offices for a quick visit in support of our heart healthy priorities. 

While Mylan is one of our newest advocates, he represents the growing trend of young professionals who want to get involved in the fight against heart disease and stroke. 
Name: Mylan W. Shaunfield
Occupation: Attorney & Counselor at Law
How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association and what is your volunteer Role: Grassroots Action Team Member. Since October 2015 
Why do you Advocate for Heart:  A number of reasons but the three biggest is the passing of my father at the young age of 60 due to heart failure, and the environment we live in facilitates an unhealthy lifestyle and sets us up for failure from a health perspective.  The fact that healthcare is our nation's largest expenditure, and It's an unrealistic expectation for people to live a healthy lifestyle when it's cheaper and easier to be unhealthy. 
What is something in your life that you love: My job allows me to help people nearly every day
What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off: Traveling to places I've never been, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new people
Fun Fact about yourself: In 2013 I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and an action shot of me next to the bulls made it on Yahoo news' and CNN's top stories.

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Meet Kari & TK

In our Volunteer Spotlight this month we would love for you to meet TWO of our Oklahoma Grassroots Action Team members:

Name: Kari Stender, M.P.H. (pictured on right)

Hometown: Sioux City, IA-but I've lived in Oklahoma for 9 years

Favorite activity when you’re not at work: Exercising-especially running. Oh! Camping too!

Favorite Concert: Backstreet Boys...hands down

If you could be an expert in anything what would it be and why? Languages. I speak Spanish and English fluently but I'd love to add more languages. I love travelling so knowing many languages would make that a lot easier!

Why are you involved with/care about the AHA?: I love the many initiatives AHA is working on to make our communities healthier. I believe that everyone has the right to good health and AHA is working towards eliminating barriers that might stand in the way.

Name: TaKisha "TK" L. Lovelace (pictured on left)

Hometown: Oklahoma City, OK

Favorite activity when you’re not at work: Hanging out with my family

Favorite Concert: The Hopeville Tour featuring Yolonda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, and Kirk Frankiln

If you could be an expert in anything what would it be and why? Relationships. Because we all need a great support group to help us function to the best of our ability!

Why are you involved with/care about the AHA?: I got involved with AHA because of the commitment it has to building communities and spreading awareness to help us all become better people.

Thank you so much to both of these ladies for being rock star advocates for heart health in Oklahoma! 

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Join Advocates at the State Capitol!
What happens in the Capitol, definitely doesn't stay in the Capitol!
In fact, stories shared by You're the Cure advocates with their elected officials make their way out of the Capitol in the form of heart healthy and stroke smart policies, changing our communities for the better! Your story can make a difference. It's time to be heard.
If you're wondering how your voice can really be heard, or want to take your advocacy to the next level, join us on March 16 to see the Texas Legislature up close. 
Our Advocating for Heart event will feature a panel of legislative staff who'll share strategies on how to be effective with your time with your legislator. Then, you'll put your skills into practice by visiting legislative offices to chat about increasing healthy options for Texas kids and families. You won’t want to miss this special opportunity!
Advocating for Heart Event Details: 
When: Wednesday, March 16, 10:30 am - 2:00 pm 
Where: State Capitol, Austin, Texas
Who: Advocates of all ages – youth and adults 
Contact for more information. 
Since this will be during spring break for many students, youth advocates are encouraged to attend with their parents! 

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What's Up Doc? Fresh Produce Coming Your Way, San Antonio!

The San Antonio City Council recently made some important changes to the city’s zoning codes that will make it easier to grow, buy, and sell fresh foods throughout San Antonio. 

These changes include efforts to increase urban farms and cottage food sales (selling small amounts of homemade/home grown products from your residence).

The City Council maintained the right for residential market gardens, allowed urban farms to be developed throughout in the city with the use of a permit, and clarified rules around cottage food sales. 

In addition, this effort helped create an important dialogue with the City Council around food access issues.  One benefit of more urban farms is that they help convert vacant lots or unused land into centers of fresh fruits and vegetables in your neighborhood!  

This is great news for food growers and consumers looking for easier ways to eat fresh and healthy. These changes were submitted and championed by the Food Policy Council of San Antonio, which works to make  healthy, fresh, and affordable food accessible to everyone.

The American Heart Association strongly supports healthy food access, including grocery store access, healthy corner stores, and efforts like these.  We applaud the San Antonio City Council for their support of these efforts and encourage them to continue addressing food access issues in San Antonio.

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Stories from the Street: McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k & Smoke-Free RGV

The following is a post by Local Policy Manager, Jerry Saavedra on his experience at the McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k

It was a great weekend in McAllen! This past Valentine’s Day weekend, the McAllen Heart Hospital and The Heart Clinic held their second-annual Healthy Hearts 5K. The turnout was amazing with over 500 people from across the RGV lacing up their running shoes to show their support!

As part of this event, our Smoke-Free RGV team had a table where we were able to engage with participants, talk with them about the devastating impact of secondhand smoke, and ask them if they would sign our petition cards & take a picture with our “100% smoke-free community” sign (check out our photo album from the event) to express their support for their community passing a 100% smoke-free ordinance. 


The support from the community was overwhelming! One woman told me that she doesn’t like to go out to bars with her friends and co-workers because the secondhand smoke always upsets her breathing and sinuses.  She said she would love to be able to go out and not smell like smoke and feel bad when she got home.  We agree.

My favorite conversation was with a man who, when I told him what we were doing at the event, told me he was a smoker.  He then turned to his wife and said with a chuckle, “They want me to sign a petition to make our city smoke-free.” She nodded her head and rolled her eyes a little. 

But then a surprising thing happened.  He turned to me and said, “You know what.  I’ll sign your petition.”  He went on to say that although he was a smoker, other people who are having a meal or having a few drinks should not have to breathe in his secondhand smoke.  “I think it’s reasonable for us smokers to just go outside to smoke.  I don’t see the problem with that.”

This gentleman and the hundreds of other people who showed their support by signing petition cards and taking pictures, made my day and reaffirmed to me that communities across the Rio Grande Valley and the entire State of Texas want to live and work in comprehensive 100% smoke-free cities.  As one woman I met put it, “It really is just common sense.” 

If you support your community going smoke-free, click here to sign the petition!  Together we will make the Rio Grande Valley a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family.


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Meet Sandi Shaw
I'm delighted for our You're the Cure advocates to meet Sandi Shaw. Sandi's  story and connection to stroke is powerful and one that I hope inspires readers to take action and get involved in the grassroots movement to fight heart disease and stroke! 
Name:  Sandi G. Shaw, RN, BSN
Occupation:  Stroke Program Coordinator
How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association?  
20 years. I became more active since my husband’s death from a heart attack and my mother’s multiple strokes.  
Why do you advocate to build healthier lives and communities, free of heart disease and stroke?
By the time I was 32 years old, I was a widow. At age 36, I became the primary caregiver for my mother who suffered a Stroke. Four years later, she would be diagnosed with another Stroke. As a result of these events, my life was immediately changed. I constantly asked myself these questions: What signs did I miss? How did I miss the signs? As a nurse who specialized in Cerebrovascular events for many years, I blamed myself. My next question: What can I do to stop blaming myself and help other patients and families? I realized I can help them by sharing my experiences, educating them about Stroke and Community Resources, and reducing their fears about Stroke. As a result, we all recover together.               
What are your passions and your interests in life?
20 years ago, Stroke was the 3rd leading cause of death. It’s now the 5th leading cause of death. We are moving in the right direction…as with stroke recovery, it takes time. It’s my desire to encourage clinicians to learn about Stroke and become experts in caring for Stroke patients. It’s my desire that patients and families understand they are not alone in their recovery. We will support them in every process from the Emergency Department to discharge. My ultimate passion is that patients and families are confident excellent Stroke care will be provided as soon as they arrive to the Emergency Department.                 
What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off?
I enjoy spending time with my mother. Her stroke diagnoses, strangely enough, has strengthened our relationship. Also, my other life is shared with my 3 (three) rescue dogs: Lexi, Coco, and Rio who are great bed alarms and always let me know when my mom is ambulatory.      
Can you please share about the work you have been doing so far to raise awareness about stroke?
I am very active with Community Awareness for Stroke. I take part in Community events at least 6 months / year. This includes but is not limited to churches, sporting events, grocery stores, sports arenas, schools, and hospitals. I take part in orienting new clinical team members about stroke on a monthly basis. In fact, I keep FAST cards in my car….always ready to pass them out to anyone I meet. I’m a firm believer that children should be educated on FAST…it’s sometimes the child who dials 911. I encourage patients and families to attend our monthly Stroke Support Group sessions. 

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