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Braelynn Neely, West Virginia

Braelynn Neely West Virginia

 Braelynn Neely is a 2016 graduate of Clay-Battelle High School in Blacksville, WV, and a congenital heart defect survivor. This passionate young woman shares her story of open-heart surgery at just 14-months-old to raise awareness that heart disease can affect anyone, at any age. Braelynn was Miss West Virginia's Outstanding Teen 2015 and through her platform, “Speaking From My Heart,” she has advocated for healthy living across the Mountain State. 

In February, Braelynn joined dozens of You’re the Cure advocates from across the state and took the opportunity to share her story with West Virginia’s lawmakers at the American Heart Association’s 2016 West Virginia Advocacy Day. We thank Braelynn for her dedication to raising awareness of the importance of heart-health and wish her the best of luck as she begins her college career!  

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Research Saved Grace's Life

Our team of nine climbers, all volunteers for a Kenyan orphanage, had begun the journey in a downpour, and the wet equipment, high elevation and ubiquitous beef stew had begun to take its toll on my body. Blurred vision accompanied exhausted muscles that pleaded for rest. But one foot in front of the other, I followed the team to summit. My body had experienced that type of complete physical exhaustion only once before – in June 2011, when I went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at age 18. Read Grace's story of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and how research saved her life.

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Trenton Fryman, Kentucky

Trenton Fryman Kentucky

For more than a year, North Oldham High School Class of 2016 senior, Trenton Fryman, has been an outspoken advocate for training students in CPR. Thanks in part to his dedication, this past March, Kentucky became the 29th state to pass legislation that will ensure all students learn this lifesaving skill.

After working as a lifeguard during a summer and receiving CPR certification himself, Trenton came to realize that most of his classmates did not know how to respond to a cardiac emergency. Trenton took it upon himself to coordinate and host three Hands-Only CPR training sessions in his high school, as well as several other small events within his community, borrowing mannequins from local EMS. From there, he applied for and received a grant from a local business to purchase his own CPR mannequins to expand the reach of his classes. 

Trenton has written letters to the editor urging legislators to support CPR in schools training, and has been an excellent example of how easy the training is to complete. In addition, he participated in two Kentucky Advocacy Day press events to demonstrate for lawmakers how quick and easy hands-only CPR is to learn. Trenton is a well-spoken, passionate volunteer and has participated in several TV interviews surrounding both our advocacy and education efforts. 

The American Heart Association was honored to present Trenton with the 2016 Young Hearts Award for his inspiring commitment to CPR education.

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You're the Cure and You're Making it Happen!

Thank you to all our Great Rivers Affiliate You’re the Cure advocates! Because of you, we’re making Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia healthier places to live. It’s been a very busy few months in our state capitols and we wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of the policy wins YOU have helped make possible.

In March, Kentucky became the 29th state to pass legislation that will ensure all students learn lifesaving CPR before graduation. In June, neighbor Ohio became No. 33. Across the country, 34 states (including DE and WV) have now passed this lifesaving legislation, resulting in over 2 million students being taught every year. Pennsylvania is working bills in both the House and Senate and we're looking forward to celebrating another CPR success soon.

On June 16th, Philadelphia became the largest, and only the second, US city to pass a sugary drink tax. In addition to helping fight diabetes and obesity, the 1.5 cents per ounce tax will generate revenue to help fund citywide pre-K and improve parks and community centers. Read more about this historic win for Philadelphia's kids.

Our dedicated West Virginia advocates rallied over and over again during the 2016 Legislative Session to help beat back several attempts to weaken local smoke-free regulations.  In addition, the WV legislature passed a 65-cent increase in the state’s cigarette tax to help raise needed revenue to address the state’s budget shortfall.

WV passed Stroke Systems of Care legislation in March, helping ensure stroke victims get the fast care they need for the best chance of recovery.  Delaware will hopefully soon join them in improving stroke care in the First State. Senate Bill 265 passed the legislature in late June and is awaiting the Governor's signature. Kentucky passed similar legislation in 2015 and Ohio and Pennsylvania are also working on bills that will improve stroke care.

Again, thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you, and we look forward to continuing to work alongside our amazing advocates to create heart-healthier communities.

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Help Protect PE for Kids Like Me!

Guest post from Reagan Spomer, 6th grader Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board Member & You’re the Cure Advocate

I have two words for you… scooter hockey.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is!  Scooter hockey, along with cage ball and 3-way soccer are some of my favorite activities in gym class, which I have a few times a week.

I’m glad I have physical education for a number of reasons.  It keeps me active and teaches me to try new things.  It helps me focus on my school work.  It relieves my stress.  And most of all, it makes me feel great! 

But I know a lot of schools don’t have regular PE like my schools does.  That means a lot of kids are missing out on the benefits of being active during the school day.  I think this needs to change.   

Will you help?  As part of the nationwide campaign to protect PE in schools, Voices for Healthy Kids has created a photo petition map to show how many people across the country love PE like I do.  As people share their pictures, the map will change colors.  I’ve added my “I heart PE” photo for South Dakota.  Will you do the same for your state?  It’s really easy:

  1. Print an “I heart PE” sign (or make your own!)
  2. Take a picture of yourself holding the sign.
  3. Click on your state to share your photo.

Thanks for helping to protect PE for kids like me!
-Reagan

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Summer Sun Means Summer Fun

The arrival of summer means fun days at the pool, family picnics, baseball and other outdoor activities. Here are some great tips to help keep your family healthy and physically active in the warmer months:

Hydrate! Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration. For low-calorie flavor, add slices of your favorite fruits such as melon, oranges, berries or even cucumber or mint to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for two hours. Read our Staying Active in Warm Weather and Staying Hydrated - Staying Healthy.

Protect your family from the sun: Wear wide-brimmed hats, always apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

Heat safety: Avoid intense activities between noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.

Dress for the heat: Wear lightweight, light colored clothing, choose light, breathable fabrics such as cotton, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Head indoors: When the heat gets unbearable, try indoor activities at your local YMCA or rec center like basketball, swimming, yoga or racquetball.

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Annette Santilli, West Virginia

Annette Santilli West Virginia

Annette Santilli is certainly a hero in our eyes. In just two short years as a You’re the Cure advocate, she has taken more than one hundred online and offline actions to far surpass even the highest You’re the Cure rank of "Hero."  She is a passionate volunteer-advocate who can always be counted on to go above and beyond what is asked. Annette is a "regular" at the West Virginia Capitol, frequently making the 2 1/2 hour drive to speak out on issues she believes in. During the hectic West Virginia Legislative Session, you can usually find her making dozens of last-minute phone calls to lawmakers to help protect smoke-free air, testifying with her young daughter, Stephanie, before legislative committees, delivering petitions to lawmakers or speaking to other potential advocates.

Thank you, Annette, for being a You’re the Cure Hero and a champion for the health of West Virginians!

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Will you help influence scientific research?

We need to hear from consumers like you as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) partner together on the future of research. Your experience could lead to the next research study to improve heart disease and stroke treatment.

As an advocate we’ve asked you to speak out for increased funding for medical research and you’ve answered by contacting lawmakers and sharing your personal stories as survivors, caregivers, and loved ones touched by heart and stroke disease. Now we invite you to share your experience, the decisions made in determining your or your loved one’s treatment plans and the factors that influenced those decisions. If we better understand your experience it can help guide the research that will lead to better care tailored to the specific needs of patients.

If you’ve had a heart attack, suffered a stroke, or you know a loved one who has, your unique understanding could help guide research to solve un-met care challenges faced by individuals like you and improve heart and stroke treatment.

Here are the details:

  • We are focused on un-met challenges faced by patients and caregivers like you. 
  • To join this challenge, you’ll be asked to provide a written submission of your first-hand experience after a heart disease or stroke event.
  • The story and description of the concerns you faced and the decisions you made should be personal and not a general case.
  • A team of scientific professionals and patient representatives with expertise in heart disease and stroke will review your story. Learning more about issues and concerns important to your decision-making can help them improve experiences and outcomes for patients in the future.
  • If your submission is chosen, you could win $1,000 and possibly help shape the future of cardiovascular research.
  • All submissions must be received by June 8, 2016.

Please take this important challenge and share your insights. Your story matters. Take the challenge today!

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Carmen Thompson, Kentucky

Carmen Thompson Kentucky

 Frankfort, Kentucky resident, Carmen Thompson, is 66 years young. So when she suffered a stroke December of last year, she didn’t believe it was happening to her. “I woke up and was numb on my left side,” Carmen, who teaches 6th grade at Franklin County Schools, said. “I didn’t think my face was drooping so I went to school like normal.” But Carmen’s students immediately noticed something was wrong. “The kids kept looking at me funny,” she said.

Carmen’s superintendent finally came into her room and sent her home, telling her she believed she was having a stroke. “I should have gone right to the hospital,” Carmen said.  But instead she went home and asked her husband drive her to the emergency room. Still in denial, though she admits she knew all the stroke symptoms and was having several, Carmen said she didn’t want to face the fact that she may be having a stroke.

With an extensive family history of stroke, Carmen also struggles with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and is a type 2 diabetic. After spending five days in the stroke unit at the hospital, Carmen knew her stroke had been major. “The nurses called me a medical train wreck,” Carmen said. “I was sent for rehab,” she said. “I initially thought I’d stay there for just a few days, but I ended up in rehab for a month.”

During her rehab, Carmen received both occupational and physical therapy, both of which she desperately needed, especially for her extremely weak left side. She worked hard during that first month, just to recover her ability to walk and move properly. “I still needed help getting around,” she said. “Anything that needed zipping or buttoning or getting out of the shower I struggled with.”

After her first two weeks were complete, Carmen set goals, one of the most important being that she wanted to be back in her classroom teaching by January of 2016. “They teach you to set goals but remind you to know that you may have to change them,” she said.

Indeed Carmen eventually admitted that she would not be able to return to teaching for the duration of the school year. “I hope to be back in time for school to begin again in August,” she said. “I had another minor stroke the end of February that set me back quite a bit,” Carmen said. “I’m still in a wheelchair but I’m doing a lot better with my memory and processing things.”

Her advice for those who think they may be suffering from a stroke? “If you have symptoms, don’t stay in denial,” Carmen said. “Go immediately and get checked out. If I had gone to the hospital a little bit quicker, I know I wouldn’t have such a long recovery period.”

 

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May is Stroke Month: Become a Stroke Hero!

In the U.S. someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. We won’t stand idly by as this menacing disease claims our loved ones and independence. We humbly request your support as we rally the nation to create Stroke Heroes by teaching: 80% of most strokes can be prevented and stroke is largely treatable. Studies prove the faster a stroke patient is treated, the more likely they are able to recover without permanent disability. 

You don’t need superpowers to be a Stroke Hero. Start by controlling high blood pressure, the leading-controllable risk factor for stroke and learning the 5 Things Every Stroke Hero Should Know in effort to reduce your risk of having a stroke. 

Now that you have commanded the power to prevent stroke, prove you are ready to put an end stroke. Learn and share  F.A.S.T., the simple acronym used to teach the warning signs of stroke and to save lives. 

Activate your superpowers by taking the Stroke Hero-Superpower Quiz and prove are ready to join our league of Stroke Heroes. 

To learn more ways you can be a Stroke Hero, visit StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeHero.

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