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Advocate Story: Anne Simaytis

 My Health is Why!

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What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

My mom is a nurse who works in cardiology. Heart terms and the work of the American Heart Association were never foreign to me growing up. Every year, she would send letters to our neighbors fund raising for the American Heart Association because she saw the great work they did in the healthcare system first hand. Then, we suddenly lost my grandfather to a heart attack so our investment as a family in the association went beyond my mom's work. When a position opened at the association, I jumped at the chance to work there. And then, when a position opened in the advocacy department, I knew I found my dream opportunity. To have the ability to work with passionate volunteers to create heart-healthy communities through public policy is amazing and something I don't take for granted.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

I get to work on all of our policies, both the systems and prevention side. They all have their own place in making our communities heart-healthy and our lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Being selfish though, the issues that require more grassroots outreach like tobacco issues, the CPR in Schools campaign, physical education, good food access and sugary drinks campaigns are the most fun! I get to work with volunteers and take on tough opposition with deep pockets. The work is hard, but when we are successful, the victory is awesome! We are actually living out Margaret Mead’s famous quote: “Never Doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

There are so many great memories from my advocacy work! I love the tough campaigns! I love lobby days. I love meeting new volunteers. I think my favorite thing is our annual advocate summit. It is a day-long event for our top advocates where we can all come together and hear from one another in an environment that isn’t as busy and hectic as a lobby day. It gives us all time to connect on the current and upcoming issues and more importantly offers advocates new ways to get involved and in-depth trainings on things they may have never done before. I also love reconnecting with old friends and making new friends during the summits! This volunteer experience is one that I am most proud of working hard to offer our awesome volunteers.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Walking! I would walk just about everywhere if I could. I also enjoy spin class and a good HIIT class!

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Pineapple and green beans!

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