Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Funding for AEDs in Rural Illinois Announced

The Illinois Rural Health Association is pleased to announce that funding has been received by the State of Illinois to increase the availability of AEDs in rural areas.

This grant opportunity to purchase an AED is available for eligible rural areas in Illinois as defined by current federal guidelines. However, due to the limited number of available grant awards, only schools that are on the financial watch list are eligible.

For the purposes of this grant, rural emergency first response entities and school buildings located in rural school districts who have not received an AED via federal or state grant initiative are eligible for funding.

Grant evaluation criteria shall include the following:
• Applicant's current number of available AEDs
• Applicant's ability to support and sustain an AED program
• Geographical distribution of AEDs within the state
• Demonstrates ability to report data on AED use and outcome

Please note that all grant applications are to be postmarked by March 30, 2009.

If you have any questions concerning the AED grant project, please contact the Illinois Rural Health Association office at 866-921-4742 or

Wear a Red Dress and Get On TV Tomorrow!

Do you own a RED dress?!

Have you been eager to show off your best dance moves?!

Then, YOU have the opportunity to be on NBC tomorrow morning for their Dance Friday!
You would need to arrive around 6:45 a.m. downtown at NBC on Michigan Ave. in a red dress!

They will be celebrating Go Red For Women – and Andrea Metcalfe from the NBC5 Fitness Team will be there to greet you in a red dress and dance with you and the anchors for a few minutes!
Don’t worry its causal and fun – professional dance experience not required! Just show up to NBC, head to the back door wearing a red dress and say you are there for Dance Friday – and most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Have questions? Contact Katie Green at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Congratulations, Dr. Kathleen Grady!

The American Heart Association is pleased to announce that Dr. Kathleen Grady, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University has been selected as our 2009 Chicago Heart Ball Coeur d’Or Medical Honoree.
Dr. Grady has been a volunteer and supporter of the American Heart Association for many years on both the local and national level. She has worked tirelessly to promote the mission of the American Heart Association in both her personal and professional life. We congratulate her on this outstanding achievement.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Issue Update: Stroke Issues Take the Spotlight

Working to improve stroke response & speed care
By Janice Youngwith

"Time loss really is brain loss when it comes to stroke," says Biggins, 62, who knows firsthand just how important those first minutes and hours can be. The representative, who has served the 41st District since 1993, suffered a stroke walking outside the County Building in downtown Chicago and now works legislatively to improve statewide stroke care.

As a stroke survivor, Biggins (pictured, right) is a key sponsor of recent legislative efforts to create a system of primary stroke centers throughout the state and was recognized for his efforts this fall with the Legislative Lifesaver Award presented by the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

Biggins' legislative efforts and ongoing work includes development of a bill that could significantly improve emergency response and medical treatment for stroke victims in Illinois, says Mark Peysakhovich, senior director of advocacy for the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association.

Amazing advances in stroke diagnosis and care, along with exciting stroke interventions are good news for patients, but only if received within a few hours of symptom onset, says Kathleen Grady, Ph.D., clinical nurse specialist and administrative director of the Center for Heart Failure at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and a member of board of directors of the American Heart Association.

"Legislation could significantly change our current emergency response system which calls for paramedics to transport patients to the nearest hospital. Instead, patients exhibiting strokelike symptoms would be transported to a state-recognized primacy stroke center where urgent lifesaving care could be provided. That could mean good news for everyone." Read more...
Daily Herald, Paddock Publications, Inc.

Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO) invites you to join a call-in support group for stroke survivors and their caregivers! The SSEEO Toll-Free Telephone Stroke Support Group builds community, provides support and shares information by connecting survivors, caregivers, health professionals and other stroke stakeholders. The calls last approximately 60 minutes with the last 30 minutes reserved for questions and conversation. Please don’t forget to register by following the instructions below.

The Heart of the Caregiver-the 411
12pm, Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Bring your questions and concerns to this informational call. Caregivers will be provided tips and strategies to assist with managing the task of caring for a stroke survivor.

Barbara Walerko, LCSW, MS is the Rehabilitation Care Manager at Alexian Brothers Rehabilitation Hospital. She has worked for the Rehabilitation Hospital for 29 years. She works closely with stroke patients, their families and support systems re: rehabilitation, discharge planning, community resources, disability counseling and insurance case management.

IMPORTANT CALL-IN INFORMATION: Participation on the calls is absolutely free but advance registration is required due to limited line availability. Please contact us at 1-800-677-5481 ext. 7438 or and provide the following information: First and last name(s), mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number. We will get back to you with an 800 call-in number and pass code which will allow you to access the conference call.

Listen & Support Educate & Learn Advocate & Change

Monday, February 16, 2009

AED Press Conference with Governor Quinn in Chicago

Thank you to Governor Quinn for making our Valentine's Day heart- healthy by ensuring Illinois lives can be saved with AED's!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Women Urged to be Aware of Heart Disease

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — LaTosha Caldwell thought she was too young to have a heart attack. The 34-year-old mother of three children was returning home to Jacksonville from a vacation in August 2007 when she started to feel a cramping sensation in her chest. Caldwell ignored the pain as it moved from her chest to shoulder and down her left arm over the course of three days.

“After the pain progressed and my arm began to get numb and it actually turned blue to the point where I thought ‘OK, I need to go and get this checked out,’” Caldwell said Wednesday at a press conference at the Capitol in honor of the first Women’s Heart Disease Awareness Month in Illinois.

Caldwell faced a stunning reality at the Jacksonville Emergency Room: she had suffered a heart attack.

Caldwell isn’t a likely victim of heart disease. She does not smoke, drink alcohol or have a history of heart disease in her family.

But according to Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, women of all ages need to be aware they could be victims of heart disease.
The most recent statistics show more than 13,000 women in Illinois died in 2006 from heart disease.

Nationally, one in three women will succumb to heart disease according to the American Heart Association. But because people think men are more likely to have heart disease, women sometimes ignore warning signs and doctors can misdiagnose them, Arnold said.

“I remember talking to women who had suffered heart attacks and how little attention was paid to their symptoms in the emergency room,” Arnold said. “If someone tells you that you are having indigestion or you are stressed too much, go to another doctor, go to someone else and get a second opinion.”

Arnold said there are several contributing factors, among them a person’s weight, whether they smoke or not and their level of physical activity. He promoted a program to get people out walking, with pedometers in hand.

“You start getting into the activity of moving, of getting out and moving. That will actually decrease your risk of heart disease,” Arnold said.

More information about lowering the risk of heart disease can be found at

By Andrew ThomasonGateHouse News ServicePosted Feb 06, 2009 @ 02:41 PM

Friday, February 6, 2009

American Heart Association honors Gov. Quinn and local Heart Heroes

(Collinsville, IL, Feb. 6, 2008)
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Collinsville High School Athletic Director Matt Badgley, Collinsville High School Athletic Trainer Amanda Baugher and Collinsville Fire Chief Peter Stehman may not possess supernatural skills, wear capes or drive super-vehicles, but they have earned the title of American Heart Hero by taking a few critical steps that helped save the life of Gary L. Gustafson, a referee who collapsed last month during the championship Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic basketball game at Collinsville High School.

Some quick-thinking bystanders from the stands--Lincoln residents Ann Olson, Debbie Ramlow, Scott Ritchhart and Karen Hobler--began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and 911 was called. Soon after, Baugher, Badgley and Stehman arrived with the automated external defibrillator (AED), and used it to administer a shock that restarted Gustafson’s heart. The AED was available thanks to an Illinois state law called the Colleen O’Sullivan Act, requiring the equipment to be on-site at all times in all schools and public athletic facilities. O'Sullivan, a staff attorney for the Illinois House of Representatives, died of heart complications in 2002 after exercising at a health club.

Gov. Quinn was a driving force behind that landmark legislation, and also helped create the Heartsaver AED Fund, which helps provide matching grants to schools, park district facilities and fitness facilities.

“It was a team effort,” said JR Dietl, president and director of training at Contemporary Life Saving Training in O’Fallon and a member of the American Heart Association’s Illinois Advocacy Committee. “The whole reason Gary Gustafson is alive today is that the bystanders acted quickly, the school implemented the program, people were trained, and the AED was easily accessible. Everything that should have happened did.”

The American Heart Association is proud to honor Quinn today with the Heart Champion Award for his pioneering efforts to strengthen the emergency medical chain of survival by promoting life-saving AED technology throughout Illinois.

The association is also honored to present its American Heart Hero Award to Baugher, Badgley and Stehman today for their fast response and heroic effort to save a life by using an AED in an emergency. Olson, Ramlow, Ritchhart and Hobler will be recognized for their roles in the save at a separate event in Lincoln.

Collinsville AED Program Manager Lisa Brown-Sabatino also received an award Friday, for helping to get the equipment placed in the district’s schools.

"By making AEDs available, people who use a few simple skills achieve something extraordinary — they save lives,” Dietl said. “Today, these Heartsavers are the heroes, but all Metro East residents can easily become tomorrow’s heroes by knowing to call 911 and being ready to perform CPR or use an AED.”

In Missouri, the American Heart Association is looking at a current statute to improve access to Automated External Defibrillators there, so that more lives can be saved. The American Heart Association is also challenging all Metro East residents to learn how to perform CPR on someone who suddenly collapses and stops breathing normally, and encouraging businesses, public sites and other entities to consider implementing programs making automated external defibrillators and trained rescuers available to administer a potentially lifesaving electric shock to the heart.

CollinsvilleSchool District is off to a great start, according to Dietl. The school trained 1,000 students in CPR over the last year. They have also trained more than 380 staff members and 38 coaches, he said.

The American Heart Association provides a full range of training and information to help people learn to perform effective CPR. Family & Friends CPR Anytime is a training program that can be used at home by multiple family members. Infant CPR Anytime is a similar self- directed program with instruction on performing CPR on an infant (12 months or younger). For additional information, visit, or call 1-877-AHA-4CPR.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

When a Bill Becomes a Law - Success in Springfield and Washington, D.C.!

Thanks to your efforts as active You're the Cure advocates, yesterday two bills became law when our new Governor and new President signed important health legislation!

First, in Springfield, Governor Quinn signed into law a bill that clarifies statutory language and affirms that the Smokefree Illinois Act is legally enforceable and is to be strongly enforced state-wide. Ensuring that our state is smoke-free helps protect citizens and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Next, in Washington, D.C., President Obama signed into law a bill that provides health coverage for nearly 11 million children from low-income families. Known as the SCHIP Reauthorization Act, this legislation also increases the federal excise tax by 61 cents.

Heart abnormalities are the most common birth defect in the United States while stroke is among the top 10 causes of death in children. SCHIP will provide help for children who are born with these conditions. As a way to provide the essential prenatal care that can help reduce birth defects, SCHIP also includes a state option to cover targeted low-income pregnant women.

These legislative victories are vital as we work towards healthier communities. Thank you again for your continued participation as You're the Cure advocates!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I am proud to present this special edition of the Midwest Affiliate Update, which recognizes the award-winning efforts of four very dedicated Midwest volunteers!

In this Update…
David Cooke, MD, receives national Gold Heart Award
Pam Knous is honored with national Award of Meritorious Achievement
Pierre Fayad, MD, is named the national Physician of the Year
Janet Maxson, MD, achieves the national Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award

David Cooke, MD, receives national Gold Heart Award
I am thrilled to announce that the recipient of the national Gold Heart Award is David Cooke, MD, president of our affiliate board and vice president of quality and safety at Central DuPage Hospital in suburban Chicago. The Gold Heart Award is the American Heart Association's highest award—and this is the second consecutive year that it has gone to a Midwest Affiliate volunteer! Dr. Cooke’s volunteer career with the American Heart Association spans nearly 25 years, during which time he has led the Midwest through three mergers; the adoption and implementation of our national strategic plan and impact goal; and countless local challenges and opportunities. David’s eloquence and style of leadership is evident by his involvement at many levels of the organization, which includes serving as a primary media spokesperson in Chicago; helping to develop a CVD Task Force for the state of Illinois, and helping to establish the Mission: Lifeline “brand” in what may well be the most challenging market in the country for Mission: Lifeline. We proudly congratulate Dr. Cooke for achieving this award, and sincerely thank him for all he has done, and continues to do, to advance our mission! Congratulations, David!

Pam Knous is honored with the Award for Meritorious Achievement
I am delighted to congratulate Pam Knous, CFO of SuperValu, who is being recognized for her outstanding leadership of the Go Red For Women movement. Last year, Pam served as the chairperson for the Go Red for Women Luncheon in the Twin Cities, which raised more than $1.3 million -- the first Go Red for Women event that exceeded the $1 million threshold! I was fortunate to attend the Twin Cities Go Red for Women event last February and it was truly a benchmark event. In addition to the her work at the local level, Pam worked to build a national three-year, $3 million partnership between SuperValu and the American Heart Association! Pam continues to make an incredible impact in the American Heart Association’s efforts to improve the heart-health of women in the Twin Cities and throughout America! Congratulations, Pam!

Pierre Fayad, MD, is named National Physician of the Year
Pierre Fayad, MD, professor and chairman of the department of neurological services at the University of Nebraska, has been named the National Physician of the Year for his outstanding contributions to furthering the Association’s mission as a practicing physician with direct patient care responsibilities. While the majority of his days are dedicated to working with patients, Pierre understands the bigger picture involved with positively impacting change and advancing stroke care in communities nationwide. He has served on numerous national committees, including the peer committee for Brain/Stroke grant review, and volunteers on the American Heart Association National Center Board of Directors, the Scientific Advisory and Coordinating Committee, the International Committee, and the Stroke Council Leadership Team of the American Stroke Association, to name a few. To support Dr. Fayad’s nomination for this award, there was an outpouring of support from many of Dr. Fayad’s patients. His tireless efforts as a volunteer and a physician are not just inspiring—they are lifesaving. Congratulations and many thanks, Pierre!

Janet Maxson, PhD, achieves the National Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award
Janet Maxson, PhD, a nurse practitioner with Minot Health and Wellness in North Dakota, will receive the National Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award for her accomplishments as a volunteer leader and for the active role she has played in improving health care delivery and setting high standards for the care of patients and their families. Janet has been a passionate volunteer for the American Heart Association since 1975. Her involvement has encompassed every aspect of the American Heart Association from the local to national level, including fundraising, advocacy, health professional education and communications. Janet has given generously of her time over the years, from financially supporting the Heart Walk, to providing AHA education to the public and other professionals, to serving as a key contact and grassroots advocacy volunteer. Janet continues to be an advocate for women’s health and a wonderful leader and speaker for our Go Red for Women movement. Many thanks to Janet for her tremendous, longstanding commitment to our mission!

Each of these award recipients will be honored at the National Volunteer Leadership Conference in April in Washington, D.C. This will be a very special celebration, recognizing all national award recipients.

My heartfelt gratitude belongs to these, and all of our passionate Midwest Affiliate volunteers. I am so pleased and proud to see these four individuals receive this well-deserved national recognition for their outstanding commitment to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke! Congratulations!!

Warm regards,


Kevin Harker
Executive Vice President
Midwest Affiliate