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!

Friday, February 27, 2009

AHA Volunteers Educate Key Lawmakers

On Wednesday, February 25, two great American Heart Association volunteers educated the House Housing Finance and Policy and Public Health Finance Committee about the importance of prevention heart disease and stroke in Minnesota.
Dr. Russell Luepker, from the University of Minnesota and a member of the State Advocacy Committee, provided key legislators information about the prevalence of heart disease and stroke across Minnesota. He also focused on key trends demonstrating the increases in obesity and other rick factors associated with heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Mary Boylan, cardiologist from St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, also appeared in front of the committee and provided information about how prevention of heart disease and stroke can make significant impacts on the health of Minnesotans and can reduce death, disability and save in health care costs. She emphasized the importance passing key legislation aimed at preventing heart disease and stroke across Minnesota. This includes instilling healthy habits in our kids through quality physical education, increasing access to heart screenings for uninsured and underinsured women and funding the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Unit at the Minnesota Department of Heath.

Learn more about each of these key policies:
Heart Disease and Prevention Funding
Quality Physical Education can address Childhood Obesity
Women's Heart Health Promotion Act

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kare 11 Covers PE Hearing

Some local media even covered our PE hearing, including Kare 11!

PE Jumps First Legislative Hurdle- with a small bruise

Thursday morning, February 19, the physical education bill (HF 439) passed the House K-12 Education Policy committee! The bill now heads to the House K-12 Education Finance committee. We are still waiting for our Senate hearing to be scheduled.

We had an impressive line-up for testimony.
Dr. John Ratey MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School with a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
Greg LeMond, Three time Tour de France winner
Jack Olwell, Physical education teacher at North Trail Elementary School in Farmington.Teacher since 1978; named Farmington teacher of the year
Steven Geis, Principal, North Trail Elementary School, Farmington.

Despite our awesome testimony, there is some opposition to this bill. The Minnesota School Boards Association testified against the bill and offered an amendment for a limited waiver for students to opt-out of the graduation requirement. The lobbying team was expecting this move and is working to remove it as the legislative process moves forward. The AHA does not support waivers!

We will need your help to ensure the physical education bill stays strong! Stay tuned for updates!

Congratulations to everyone who helped get the bill past our first hurdle at the legislature including our lobbying team and the grassroots advocates who contacted legislators. Some local news stations also reported on this issue, including Kare 11.

Check out these great pictures from the hearing!
Courtesy of MN House of Rep./Tom Olmscheid

Monday, February 16, 2009

Minnesotan Women Share their Stories and Passion

For the past six years, Go Red For Women has been the American Heart Association’s solution to save the lives of women across this country by helping them turn simple lifestyle choices into life-saving actions.
Whether it’s eating healthier, exercising more, quitting smoking, or committing to visit the doctor every year, Go Red For Women empowers women to take these steps toward a healthier life.
We know that Go Red For Women is working!!! Since the movement began, 750,000 women across the country have joined. As a result of signing up to join the movement, 96 percent of those women have reported they were motivated to take action to live healthier.
We met several of these women at the Twin Cities first-ever Go Red Casting Call at the Mall of America on Wear Red Day, February 6, 2009. We reached a couple hundred women with important health messages at the event and nearly 40 women chose to sit down and share their personal stories with us on camera.
We met Lynn, who chose successfully to quit smoking this past year after more than 40 years of smoking.
A young lady named Maya was moved to live healthier after she lost her mother to a heart attack at age 48. In honor of her mom, Maya chose to fit exercise and healthy eating into her life and has since lost 50 pounds.
We were touched by Amanda who found herself in congestive heart failure just weeks after giving birth to twins. Today she chooses to make time to listen to her body, for her health and the future of her children.
Thanks to all those who attended the casting call and shared their stories. The Minnesota and National winners will be announced May 31, 2009. Stay tuned!

PE Bill Gets First Committee Hearing

Our bill to ensure all Minnesota students receive quality physical education is getting its first hearing! It will be heard on Wednesday, February 18, in the House K-12 Education Policy Committee.

If your Representative sits on this committee, please contact him/her to ensure we have their support for HF 439! Click on the link below to see if your Repsentative sits on this committee.

Ask your Representative to Support Quality Physical Education!

This committee hearing is the first step to ensuring all kids receive quality physical education across the state of Minnesota. HF 439 will ensure physical education is not eliminated from schools so our children have a chance to learn lifelong physical activities and healthy habits. Further, research has shown that students who participate in quality physical education have higher academic performance. Let your Representative know how important quality physical education is to the health and well-being of our kids.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Budget Crisis: What about increasing the tobacco tax?

State legislators are hosting town hall forums across the state from to ask Minnesotans for their ideas on how to solve the budget crisis.

The American Heart Association and our public health partners need your help to raise awareness around the benefits of an increase in the tobacco tax. Not only would this help raise important revenue for the state of Minnesota, it would also save lives and help prevent heart disease and stroke.

We are targeting five communities- Brainerd, Forest Lake, Mankato, Rochester, and Willmar. If you live in one of these communities, we strongly encourage you to attend your community forum and report back to us!

Sample question: I am a [heart disease/stroke survivor or caregiver or health care professional]. I think an increase in the tobacco tax would be a good way to raise needed revenue. It would also help address some major health care issues, including preventing many chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke. [Include short personal story here].

$1.00 increase would:
Raise between $90-150 million
Decrease youth smoking by 13.3% and cause 19,500 adults to quit
Save 19,300 Minnesotans from premature smoking-caused death
Save $8 million from fewer smoking-caused heart attacks & strokes over five years

Friday, February 20th - 10:30 a.m.
Washington Educational Services Building-Board Room
804 Oak Street
Sign up to speak at this location

Forest Lake
Thursday, February 26 - 6:30 p.m.
Forest Lake City Hall
220 N. Lake St
Sign up to speak at this location

Thursday, February 19th - 6:00 p.m.
Mankato Intergovernmental Center-Mankato River Room
10 Civic Center Plaza
Sign up to speak at this location

Thursday, February 19th - 6:00 p.m.
Rochester Community and Technical College-Heintz Center Commons Area
1926 Collegeview Road SE
Sign up to speak at this location

Thursday, February 19th - 6:00 p.m.
Kennedy Elementary School
824-7th Street SW
Sign up to speak at this location

Click here for more information the toll of tobacco in Minnesota
Click here for more information about the town hall forums

Please let me know if you attend a forum and raise the tobacco tax idea so we can track our progress. Email me at

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Capitol Rotunda Goes Red

Friday, February 6, 2009, the Capitol Rotunda was a sea of red as volunteers and legislators celebrated National Wear Red Day and the introduction of the Women’s Heart Health Promotion Act.

Representative Phyllis Kahn and Senator Patricia Torres-Ray are leading the efforts to ensure that more uninsured and underinsured women are able to access heart screening to prevent heart disease, the leading killer of women in the state of Minnesota. The Women's Heart Health Promotion Act would increase funding to the state program that provides screenings for low-income and uninsured women across the state of Minnesota. This program currently screens about 1,000 women and could be expanded to at least 15,000 to truly make an impact and save lives if the Women’s Heart Health Promotion Act becomes law.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Apply for SHIP Funding!

Statewide Health Improvement Program RFP Available

The Minnesota Department of Health is soliciting applications for grant funding to reduce tobacco use and exposure and prevent obesity in Minnesota, through implementation of specific policy, systems and environmental interventions in four settings: schools, community, worksites and health care.

Please see Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Request for Proposals for more information.