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, March 29, 2012

Legislative Wins in Illinois!

Greetings Illinois Advocates!

We’re on a roll this week, as multiple bills we’ve been working on have taken big steps in the right direction! First, thanks to all of your help and building off of its passage in committee on Tuesday, House Bill 5480 passed the full House today by a huge margin of 108 – 1! This bill will make it easier for the American Heart Association to qualify to participate in the annual Illinois state employee giving campaign, which could lead to increase financial support of our lifesaving mission. Now it moves on to the Senate, where once again we’ll be calling on your help.

Also moving to the Senate after passing the House with our support is HB 5114, a bill which would bring basic CPR training to all middle-school (grades 6 – 8) students. This bill will help train the next generation of CPR lifesavers, and pave the way for a future effort to make CPR training a high-school graduation requirement for all Illinois students. As this bill progresses we’ll be asking for your help contacting legislators for it as well!

Finally, also with our support House Resolution 872 passed the House Human Services Committee this week, setting the stage for consideration by the full House. HR 872 lays out the value of Illinois’ Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and declares that EMS should be made an essential service in Illinois. This resolution is a welcome first step, and will be followed by more substantive legislative efforts later this spring and this fall during the legislature’s post-election special session.

We will keep all of you updated as we move forward. In the meantime, let’s celebrate these advocacy wins in Illinois!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, our victories are yours, because You’re the Cure!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Real Stories of Regular People Saving Lives

Ayo Abiona and Tay Gilbert entertained the students with their "Dance to Stay Healthy" performance.

By Nabeha Zegar March 9, 2012

Jerling Jr. High's 7th grade student class successfully completed a course in CPR techniques and were treated to an assembly to celebrate their accomplishments. Orland School District 135 School Board Member Lynne Donegan is a proponent of the course offered to junior high students district-wide over the last four years, stemming from a personal experience.

This year alone, over 800 seventh grade students in District 135 schools were trained to use CPR and AED. Donegan said she hopes that all schools, nationwide, will soon offer CPR/AED training. She was among several speakers at the assembly, including representatives from the Orland Fire Protection District, the Orland Park Police Department, American Heart Association, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Jerling students and staff.

Colleen O'Sullivan, an active marathoner and relative of Donegan, suffered a heart attack while at a health club and died. No CPR was given to resuscitate O’Sullivan before paramedics arrived, nor was a defibrillator available. Donegan believes that her life could have been saved if someone present were trained in the skills and a defibrillator was nearby.

Donegan, along with her family and friends, helped enact the Colleen O’Sullivan Law which requires all physical fitness facilities in Illinois to have an AED (Automated external defibrillator) on premises. Dr. Chiampas, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is part of CCARES (Chicago Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Education Service), an organization focused on increasing survival of cardiac arrest victims in Chicago. The two have teamed together with a common goal, to give others the ability and knowledge necessary to save lives.

Many students and staff members shared personal stories of life and death situations they have experienced. Physical education teacher Maureen Zopf spoke of a situation where she had to revive a man who passed out while on a treadmil at a health club.

“There are no words to describe how great it felt to see him begin to breath again,” said Zopf. “I will always remember on that day that I helped save someone’s life.”

Chiampas, who is also the physician for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Marathon and World Cup, praised the students for their efforts and stressed the importance of the skills they had recently learned.

“I hope you will never have to use it,” said Chiampas. “But the world is safer because you have this skill.”

House Bill 5114 passed through the Elementary and Secondary Education committee in Springfield on Wednesday morning, and will soon be heard by the full General Assembly. The proposed bill would require all schools in Illinois to provide CPR/AED training as part of the curriculum. According to Donegan, "the program offered would cost taxpayers nothing and will greatly empower our children with life saving skills.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AHA volunteers, staff successfully kill bill meant to weaken smoke-free law

On Feb. 28, volunteers and staff helped defeat a bill in the Illinois House of Representatives which would have allowed Illinois towns to sell smoking licenses to local businesses. "Such legislation would endanger employees and other customers who prefer not to be exposed to second-hand smoke," said Dr. Timothy A. Sanborn , head of the cardiology division at NorthShore University HealthSystem and a member of the American Heart Association's Illinois Advocacy Committee. "Even low levels of smoke exposure have been shown to lead to heart attacks and strokes. ... Let's strive to continue to improve the health of all residents of the state of Illinois rather than grant 'licenses to kill.'" This is a big victory in our effort to keep our hard-fought, statewide smoke-free legislation in place!

Friday, March 16, 2012

SSEEO invites you to join a teleconference series for stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals!

The Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO) Toll-Free Teleconference Series 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.

Tuesday, April 10th, 12:00-1:00pm central time: Central Pain Syndrome Post Stroke presented by Jon Vogel, MD St Joseph’s Hospital and Resurrection Health Care. Central Pain Syndrome is a neurological condition caused by damage to or dysfunction of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. The character of the pain associated with this syndrome differs widely among individuals partly because of the variety of potential causes. Dr. Vogel will be discussing what causes central pain, the symptoms associated with it and the treatment options.

Jon Vogel, MD is a physician who is Board certified in Neurology and Pain Medicine. He is currently on staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital where he is the medical adviser and champion on St. Joseph’s stroke committee. Dr. Vogel attended medical school at Rush University. After a medicine internship at Evanston Northwestern, he did his Neurology training at Mount Sinai in New York City where there was a large dedicated stroke unit. It was a very busy stroke program where he had the opportunity to learn from some of the leaders in the field of stroke.

Participation on the calls is absolutely free but advance registration is required due to limited line availability. Please contact us at 1-888-988-8047 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.

*Registration deadline is April 9th.

Listen & Support • Educate & Learn • Advocate & Change

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Illinois Volunteers Advocate for Safe Routes to School!

You’re the Cure advocates Heidi Files of Batavia, Rose Hudson of Champaign, Toya Johnson of Oswego, and Maryann Romanelli of Hinsdale, are in Washington D.C. today meeting with Illinois legislators to help save Safe Routes to School! While they are meeting face-to-face with legislations, we are also running an ad in Politico to urge our nation’s legislators to “give America’s kids the right of way to healthy life” by preserving the program in the federal transportation bill. But Heidi, Rose, Toya and Maryann need your help to make sure EVERY Member of Congress from Illinois gets the message.

Help your fellow advocates in four simple steps:

  1. Print a copy of the AHA's Safe Routes to School ad.

  2. Personalize it with your contact information.

  3. FAX it to your Members of Congress. You can find their contact information here.

  4. Report back! Let us know you sent your faxes!

The fate of Safe Routes to School, which helps communities build safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike paths that allow kids to be more physically active, is still up in the air. But thanks to your action and the help Heidi, Rose, Toya and Maryann, we are making progress. Just last week, the Senate included a provision in its transportation bill that would ensure that local governments and school systems are able to access critical funds to make communities safer for bicycling and walking. But our work is far from over until a final bill is passed and signed.

Thank you for doing your part to give America’s kids the right of way to a healthy life!

PS- Don’t have a fax machine? No problem! You can call the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) to be connected to your legislators’ offices. Don’t forget to tell them who you are, where you are from, and that you are counting on Congress to preserve funding for Safe Routes to School in the transportation bill.