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Dr. Daniela Gerard Helps to Reduce Wait Times for Heart Patients

Daniela Gerard, MD, PhD, is busy both giving care in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) in Gillette, Wyoming and taking care of her dogs, donkeys, horses and a ‘few’ bobcats. Having lived in Wyoming with her husband for the last 10 years, she knows about the geographical barriers to giving care. But when she was looking to make impacts in her community, she looked towards the American Heart Association.


“The American Heart Association gave us all the support and framework that could help our state,” said Dr. Gerard. “Some of our providers didn’t have the tools needed to reduce the times to get care for cardiac patients, and with the funds we received with the help of the American Heart Association, we were able to get these tools out there.”


Dr. Gerard and other American Heart Association volunteers for Mission: Lifeline were so successful in reducing barriers for heart attack victims that Dr. Gerard was asked to present a poster at the Mediterranean Emergency Medicine Congress in Rome, Italy last week.


“The collaboration between the hospitals, providers and all of the partners was really amazing,” said Dr. Gerard. “But there’s more work to do.”


As a board certified emergency medicine physician, Dr. Gerard understands that reducing time to get care, by even minutes or seconds, can have long-term impacts on victims of cardiac arrest.


“In those minutes, it’s all about life. For me, My Life is Why. Every living person has a beating heart,” said Dr. Gerard. “Volunteering at the American Heart Association, through Mission: Lifeline, was such a great way to make an impact.”

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CPR Training in US High School Spreads to 25 States

A grassroots movement of constituents and volunteers have spread CPR training to US high schools. The number of U.S. states teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for high school students has now reached 25 states and more than one million high school students annually.

Alabama was the first state to require CPR training before high school graduations back in 1984. The second state, Iowa, wouldn’t come until 24 years later in 2008. From 2008 to 2015, the movement began to spread quickly. From Texas to Washington to Vermont and many states in between, the non-partisan movement has built support from all sides because policymakers know it will save lives.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S.—but when ordinary people, not just doctors and EMTs, are equipped with the skills to perform CPR, the survival rate can double, or even triple. A bystander trained in CPR is the strongest predictor of a victim receiving CPR. Bystanders trained in CPR are more likely to act and act competently.

There is a growing trend as more and more states are recognizing CPR as a valuable skill that should be taught to students in high school to empower them to save lives.

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Volunteers Urge Their Elected Officials: “Step Up to the Plate!”

Volunteers for the American Heart Association and constituents in Albuquerque, NM, Denver and Fort Collins, CO, Jackson, Casper and Cheyenne, WY, urged their elected officials to “Step Up to the Plate” for Healthy School Meals. In December 2010, the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) was passed and signed to update the national nutrition standards for school meals. Now, 100% of schools in Colorado and New Mexico, and 99% in Wyoming, have stepped up to the plate and rejected meals loaded with salt, fat, and sugar.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 represents a major step forward in our nation’s effort to provide children with healthy and nutritious food in schools. Over 31 million children receive meals through the school lunch program, and many children receive most of their meals at school. With one out of every three children in America now considered overweight or obese, schools often are on the front lines in combating childhood obesity and improving children’s overall health.


The HHFKA has several noteworthy provisions:


  • Strengthened local wellness policies by creating more accountability and better implementation.


  • Gave USDA the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the school day.


  • Provided additional funding to schools who meet the new guidelines.


  • Created Smart Snacks standards, which states that all snack foods outside the meal programs meet nutrition standards.


Together, volunteer advocates are working across the country to reach out their representatives. This reauthorization presents an important opportunity to show how the new programs more effectively address the nutritional needs of children.


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Meet Your New Grassroots Advocacy Director

With $50 in their pockets and hope, my parents brought my sister and I from India to the United States when we were young. 4 years later, after studying at a Red Rocks Community College at night and working minimum wage jobs, they bought a house, two cars and 'a white picket fence'. Our story is like millions of others, a story of creating life, a future, from nothing but a dream. The immigrant’s life truly is art in its purest form. In that same vein, for the last 5 years I’ve been working on creating a strong, diverse advocacy and communications portfolio. With my background in health policy in Colorado, I'm eager to start making impacts at the American Heart Association.

For the last two years, I’ve worked as the Communications and Public Policy Director of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP). As a registered professional lobbyist advocating and monitoring over 80 bills at the Colorado State Legislature, I was the in-house government relations manager for 2,200 Family Physicians giving care to 2 million Coloradans. I monitored all health related bills in Colorado and Washington DC, wrote messaging for editorials, designed all CAFP materials for events, and organized physicians for legislative action at the Colorado State Legislature and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

I started my advocacy career working for Majority Leader and State Representative Crisanta Duran at the Colorado State Legislature. Soon after, I became the Communications Director for Daniel Kagan for HD3 – the largest house race in Colorado history. For the 2013 legislative session, I served as a communications fellow for Senator Mike Johnston and supported his efforts to pass SB213, a bill to change the school finance structure in Colorado. During my time at the State Legislature, I supported the mission and visions of my elected official offices with policy and communications like press releases, website support, writing and editing newsletters, and developing factsheets. 

I graduated two years ago from the University of Denver with a cum laude honors degree in Economics and Communications. At DU, I was the Managing Editor of the DU Clarion – a 47 employee staffed newspaper, ranking 13th for overall quality in the nation by peers. I created the DU Clarion website, managed a large budget and worked with colleagues to deliver a 36 page paper. I copyedited every article and wrote many of the major and minor pieces.

I serve on the Board of Directors for health advocacy organizations across the Denver metro area. I am active in the community and aim to serve

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Colleen Rodgers Making Impacts in Wyoming

Colleen Rodgers is from Wyoming. She went to school in Cheyenne. She met her husband in Laramie. And she went to the University of Wyoming. Her two girls? Born in Wyoming. So when she decided to give back her time, she wanted to make sure she was having an impact in Wyoming.

As a Clinical Educator for RN and BSN students at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, she teaches the next generation of health care providers on giving appropriate care.  As a volunteer for the Mission Lifeline program in Wyoming, she co-chaired the protocols and quality improvement committee in order make sure that everyone in her community – no matter how far they live from Cheyenne or a town center – get appropriate care.

“Mission Lifeline is simple if you think about what we are trying to do. If we improve treatment times, we reduce deaths and significant injury from heart attack,” said Colleen. “Mission Lifeline helps to prevent sudden death in Wyoming.”

Colleen believes that the Mission Lifeline Program is crucial in rural communities in Wyoming.

“Because of the unique barriers in Wyoming, because of time, distance and resources, having good protocols is important to make sure that rural communities are acting in time to save lives,” said Colleen, “I’ve been in cardiac nursing for the last twelve years. My community is important to me and I want to make sure that everyone is always receiving high quality care.”

Colleen is most excited about getting Mission Lifeline funded in Wyoming.

“We were a little disappointed last year about not getting Mission Lifeline into the budget so I’m really excited to work on it at the State Legislature this year,” said Colleen. “With more support from the AHA with Kirstin [new AHA Community Integration and Advocacy Director], we are looking forward to other legislative priorities like CPR in schools and screening newborns for congenial heart disease.”


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New Stroke Guidelines Will Change Stroke Treatment in the U.S

Each year, more than 690,000 Americans have strokes caused by blood clots blocking vessels in the brain, called ischemic strokes. Some of the clots can grow large and may require intense therapy to treat.

However, widely celebrated new research reaffirms that large blood clots in the brain are less likely to result in disability or death, if the blockage is removed in the crucial early hours of having a stroke.

Right now the standard treatment is a clot-dissolving drug called tPA. But it must be given intravenously within 4.5 hours to be effective. For people with larger brain clots, tPA only works about a third of the time.

New studies recommend doctors to use modernized -retrievable stents, to open and trap the clot, allowing doctors to extract the clot and reopen the artery nearly every time when used with tPA.

To learn more read “Clot Removing Devices Provide Better Outcomes for Stroke Patients” and visit to learn the warning signs of stroke.

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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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Meet Kristen Waters

Please welcome Kristen Waters to the You're the Cure family! Kristen joins the SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy Team as Director of Advocacy and Community Integration. 

Meet Kristen

I’d like to formally introduce myself to you all as the new Government Relations/Community Integration Director for the state of Wyoming!

For the past 6-months, I’ve had the opportunity to work on the public awareness campaign for Mission: Lifeline Wyoming as the Wyoming Communications Director. I transferred from Omaha, Nebraska where I spent 2.5 years as the Communications Director for the state. I’m honored to be able to join the No.1  advocacy team in the AHA and continue to work with the awesome staff and team of volunteers in Wyoming!

A little background about myself, before my professional career started at the American Heart Association, I was a longtime volunteer with the organization as a way to honor of my dear grandmother, who died from heart disease. At the time, I was an television news producer and helped connect my station with AHA, and ultimately become a media sponsor for many of the local fundraising events. Before that, I lived in Washington D.C., where I worked as an Government Relations/Advocacy coordinator in the federal office for a property and casualty insurance trade association based in Chicago. Raised in Omaha, Nebraska, I ventured off to Lincoln for college where I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers) with a news editorial/political science background, and was a sports reporter for the school newspaper!

 I’m currently living in Jackson, Wyoming with a rescue Puggle named Charlie Rose, a grumpy old Maine Coon cat named Mr. Jazz Man. I love spending time in the mountains, drinking coffee and finding ways to better my community!

I’m very much looking forward to meeting you all in person, and working together to better the cardiovascular health of Wyoming!


**To learn more about Kristen, please feel free to email her at 

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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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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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