American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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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Look What You Did!

Your SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy team is kicking off the new fiscal year by recognizing the tremendous advocacy successes that we couldn’t have achieved without YOU this past legislative session. While we might be six states, we are one affiliate, with one mission - to fight heart disease and stroke. Here’s a look at what you did and every reason why we are celebrating with you.

Arkansas – We worked with partners to successfully refund the Private Option, Arkansas’ innovative approach to expanding access to healthcare to hundreds of thousands of residents. This will continue to help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease through increased access to preventative care, and save more lives.

Colorado – House Bill 1281, will ensure that newborns across Colorado will be screened for critical congenital heart defects before leaving the hospital, saving the lives of babies across our state.

New Mexico – Stroke patients will benefit from a more coordinated system of care when utilizing emergency services. Senate Bill 81 ensures that EMS stroke care plans will be developed by regional authorities, reducing disability and saving lives.

Oklahoma – Stroke patients will now receive more timely and a better quality of care when being transported to one of the state recognized stroke centers.

Texas – New funds in the state’s budget will expand a program that helps us identify where opportunities exist to improve heart attack and stroke care in the state.

Wyoming – Passage of Senate File 88, will improve the care that stroke patients receive through the coordination of timely and quality care by regional EMS authorities.

We hope you are as proud as we are of these new laws, as well as how they further the mission of the American Heart Association. Your involvement is critical, and we need you to continue this work. You are saving lives with every event you attend, phone call you make and every action alert you send. Keep it up!

PS. We have some new faces on our growing Advocacy Team. We can’t wait to introduce you to them in upcoming action alerts and emails. 

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Advocating for Heart at the Texas Capitol

A group of 22 dedicated volunteers visited with 30 legislative offices to express appreciation of their support of House Bill 1 – the Texas Budget, which dedicated 2 million in critical funding for the Heart Attack and Stroke Data Collection program and maintained current funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. You’re the Cure advocates also gave heartfelt thanks to our legislative champions for their support of our Closer to My grocer initiative, Texas Grocery Access Investment Program. 

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Heart Healthy Summer Treat: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

 If you’re like me and have a huge sweet tooth, then you know that summer means ice cream season! On a hot summer day there is nothing better than cooling off with a delicious helping of this frozen treat. 

Unfortunately, ice cream is not necessarily the healthiest option in the world, but luckily there is a guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet cravings with this simple and delicious take on a summer staple! This recipe is my absolute favorite and I like it better than any ice cream out there!


-1 frozen banana

-1 tablespoon of peanut butter

-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips

-1 tablespoon of almond milk

Place all 4 ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Voila! Chocolate peanut butter banana soft serve!

If you’re not a fan of peanut butter or chocolate, simply remove the ingredients from the recipe. I promise it’ll be just as good.  This is my go-to dessert in the summer, and I know as soon as you try this tasty treat, it will be yours too!

***This post is written by Advocacy Intern Taylor Fischer.

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End of Session Update on the Texas Grocery Access Program

During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, the Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Campaign led efforts in support of the Texas Grocery Access Investment Act (HB 1485 and SB 1590), which would have provided grants and low interest loans to retailers to open new stores or renovate existing stores in low and moderate-income urban or rural areas. The goal of the bill was to improve the health of Texans without access to healthy food by addressing the lack of grocery stores in underserved communities throughout Texas. To learn more about why grocery access is so important to Texas’ health and economy, please read this article authored by American Heart Association volunteers.
The bill would have created a financial tool, the Texas Grocery Access Program, for grocers to construct, refurbish or expand stores in areas of the state where better access to healthy foods is needed. The program would have worked in collaboration with the private sector to increase healthy food options and create local jobs. This public-private partnership would have been based at the Texas Department of Agriculture, which would contract with a non-profit or community development financial institution to administer the program.
This legislation was championed by authors Representative Eddie Rodriguez of Austin, Representative Patricia Harless of Spring, Representative Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs, Representative Borris Miles of Houston, and Representative Chris Turner of Grand Prairie. In the Senate it was authored by Senator Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and Senator Royce West of Dallas.
The House version of the bill (HB 1485) passed out of the Economic and Small Business Development Committee and was amended during second reading. Unfortunately, HB 1485 as amended narrowly failed to pass the Texas House in third reading. The Senate version of the measure (SB 1590) was referred to the Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs Committee, but the legislative session ended before the bill was heard in committee. The legislation’s budget rider, at its final request amount of $5 million, was not included in the budget passed by the House and Senate.
The momentum created by You’re the Cure volunteers helped move this legislation far in the process, raise awareness for the issue of access to healthy food options, and garner new supporters in the Capitol. Beyond the 84th Legislature, the Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Campaign will continue fighting to bring healthy food options to all Texans, and is grateful for your continued support!

Back to Closer to My Grocer home page

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AHA Statement on Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s Announcement

The State of Texas has long been a leader in school nutrition policy by limiting the use of deep fat fryers, carbonated beverages, and unhealthy food fundraisers in our schools. Today, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced updates to Texas’ school nutrition policy, which roll back years of progress in the work to reduce childhood obesity by allowing these items back in our schools. The American Heart Association (AHA) is disappointed that Commissioner Miller has chosen not to uphold these standards.  On behalf of Texas students, we ask him to reconsider this decision and be a leader in safeguarding the health of all school children.


Commissioner Miller’s attempt at addressing childhood obesity is well intentioned, but it fails to align with evidence based policies that are supported by the AHA and have been a main component in reversing this epidemic such as keeping fried foods and sodas out of reach from our children.  Local districts have embraced the previous rules established by the State of Texas, and we applaud their foresight in keeping schools healthy. We appeal to these local school districts and ask them to maintain proven public policies that ensure our students are healthy, focused, and ready to learn in school and in the future.  Easy access to high-calorie, low-nutrition foods and beverages at school will not move Texas in the right direction. 


Strong education standards go hand-in-hand with a nurturing, safe and health promoting environment. Given that many students consume almost 50 percent of their daily calories during the school day, Texas must ensure that students have access to healthy foods to nourish their minds and fuel their pursuit of excellent educational outcomes.


Additionally, most parents favor nutrition standards for all food served in schools. In a national poll, 72 percent of parents favor nutrition standards for school meals and school snacks.[1] Parents trust that schools will complement and support their efforts to promote healthy habits and appreciate schools’ efforts to create and maintain healthy school food environments.

[1] The Pew Charitable Trusts, Kids’ Safe and Healthy Foods Project. “Parents Support Healthier School Food Policies by 3-to-1 Margin.” Available at: Accessed on June 17, 2015. 

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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 Texas Advocates

We would like to recognize our Ace, 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.

Leading Texas Advocates:

Marcie Adame
Robert Aday
Angela Agens
Mel Aguirre
Selina Ahmed
Jim Aiken
Kay Alexander
Lisa Alexander
Lisa Alfaro
Shezeen Ally
Mary Almendarez
Charles Anderson
Jaime Aron
Deenadayalan bakthavatsalam
Matthew Bannister
John Barfield
Michael Barnes
Amber Beck
T Bell
Maria Benedict
Kelsey Bernstein
Eric Bethea
Kevin Billings
Nancy Birnbaum
Kristen Black
Ashley Blumberg
Laura Bordallo
Tania Boughton
Sarah Bowen
Beth Bowling
Brian Bowser
Cherie Boxberger
Tim Braun
Kristine Brockhagen
Cari Brookbanks
Terri Broussard Williams
Nancy Brown
Aabha Brown
Brooke Brown
Suzie Brown
Karen Brustman
Bruce Burns
Lynn Busch
Sara Camp
Jimmie Carpenter
Savonne Caughey
David Cervantes
Nancy Chamberlain
jean chapman
Jeanette Chavez
Heather Christianson
Elizabeth clark
William Clayton
Darlene Clayton
Michael Clintsman
faye Cocke
Wanda Coonce
Kathleen Copelin-Angelo
Gloria Corcoran
Charmagne Coston
Michelle Covarrubias
Phil Crabill
Denni Cravins
Colleen Crawford
Shannon Creekmur
Chris Cromeans
Anne Dapremont
Anne Dapremont
Lynne Darrouzet
Carroll Dartez
Ashley Davis
Jeanell Davis
Rafael De La Garza
Larissa De Luna
Courtney DeBower
Larissa Deluna
Rodney Derbigny
Jacquelyn Dingley
Michael Dobbs
Brooke Domek
Helen Donop
Natashia Doolittle
Sylvia Duncan
Christy Dunmyer
Douglas Dunsavage
Rita Eckles
Lorena Egan
Brian Eigel
Midge Epstein
Pamela Evans
Diana Everett
Ruthie Ewers
Indira Feustel
Carrie Foley
Craig Forney
Jo Marie Fortner
Detra Foster
carol fudge
Vanessa Fuentes
John Galindo
Rod Garrett
Katheryn Gentry
Paige Glover
Deanna Goldsmith
Rachel Gomez
Sheryl Green
Tamara Gregory
Allison Groom
Bennett Haines
Nikki Hamilton
Penny Hammack
Karin Harbour
Matthew Harris
Debbie Harrison
Garrett Harvey
Lisa Hatfield
Robert II Hatfield
Tim Hauter
Marinda Heinrich
Lupe Herrera
Melanie Hersom
Kerisha High-Parker
Frances Hobson
Linda Hudson
Felicia Huerta
Sam Hulse
Donald Hultgren
Meghan Hunter
Laura Jansky
Vanitha Jayakrishnan
Christopher Johnston
Denise Jones
Gia Kahn
Racheal Kane
Steven Kelder
Connie Kerr
hina khawar
Amit Khera
Nancy Kile
James King
James Klein
Anika Kleingartner
Kim Koehn
Brant Kotch
Amy Lagrone
Barbara Landry
Robyn Landry
Lindsay Lintelman
Kimberly Locke
William Lockhart
Mary Long
Suzanne Lozano
Kathryn Luke
Tara Lulla
Alejandro Magadan
Nora Martinez
Debra May
linda mcbroom
Wolford McCue
Darren McGuire
Tammy McKinney
James McKnight
Caryl Meeks
Susan Mehner
Vince Mendieta
Laura Mendoza
Anna Mondero
Susan Montalvo
Veronica Morales
salomi mukherjee
John Murphy
Kaitlyn Murphy
Lisa Nedoss
Victoria Nelson
Thomas Nieland
Brion Oaks
Gisella Olivo
Pete Ortega
Christina Ortiz
Agatha Osuji
Sosi Papazian
Susan Patten
Brandy Patton
Guadalupe Perez
April Peters
Jacqueline Petterson
Francine Pina
Adrienne Pingel
Debra Powell
Mary Price
Darlene Primm
Kimberly Pruitt
Virginia Ramirez
Diana Ramirez
Rene Ramon
Samantha Riddle
Karen Robb
Mindy Roewe Lyman
Debra Rollick
Linda Romer
Denise Romo
Elizabeth Roque
James Rosales
Irene Rosales
Chris Ruiz
Carmen Santiago
Roger Santone
Brian Schill
Mark Schoeberl
Debra Scott
Joshua Seff
Greg Sells
Luke Sheffield
Jim Sheridan
Pamela Sherman
Joseph Shirey
Nora Silva
Marchelle Simmons
Kate Simpson
Arsheill Sinclair
Christa Sloan
Jennifer Smith
Natalie Smith
Laura Sol
felicia sosa
Tracey South
Kathryn Sperry
Scott Spiek
Jessica Starkschall
Lisa Stone
Aditi Sundarajan
Nicole Sweeney
Sofie Tai
Thomas Tenner
Tashon Thomas
Dianne Tilford
Adam Tiner
Ana Torres
Amanda Trapp
Meighan Vafa
Montra Valle
Nikki Vassar
Kelley Vaughn
James Wallace
Jeffery Walters
Dusty Warden
John Warner
Pkaye Washington
Shvaughn Welch
Casie Wenmohs
Karen Wicks
Beth Wilde
Marisa Williams
Diana Wilson
Marcie Wilson
Thomas Windberg
Jacqueline Wiseman
Sharon Wood
Tracy Woods
Robert Wozniak
Dusty Young

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Join us at the Texas Capitol on June 30th!

Thank you for your continued dedication to advancing heart healthy and stroke smart policies. Please join us at the Texas Capitol for our Advocating for Heart  event on June 30! RSVP to secure your spot today.

  • What: Advocating for Heart
  • When: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 1:30-3:30 pm
  • Where: Texas Capitol (more details to follow)

Questions? Contact 

Thank you, and we look forward to you joining us for Advocating for Heart!

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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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