Well deserved award for phenomenal AHA volunteer, Richard Veilleux.
hero_image_alt_text===An image of Richard Veilleux.
This year, the American Heart Association will present Richard Veilleux with the 2018 Leadership in Advocacy Award for his work to pass Tobacco 21, first in Portland, and then statewide. Without Richard's energy and positive attitude, we would not have been successful.
I was sitting in the Maine State House in the Spring of 2016 when Richard reached out to me. Portland, his hometown, was considering raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21. He wanted the American Heart Association to get involved. Unfortunately, I needed to be 60 miles away at the Capitol, so I told him: "If you can lead the effort, we will back you up." Not only did he lead our efforts, but ended up leading the efforts of an entire coalition of other health organizations and their volunteers. I helped from Augusta when I could.
Again, in April 2017, Richard took time out of his busy work schedule to travel to Augusta to testify on behalf of the American Heart Association in support of the bill that led to Tobacco 21. In his testimony, Richard stated:
Public health policies aimed at reducing tobacco use have had tremendous positive impact on the health of Maine people over the past several decades. It is my hope that the people of Maine will continue to benefit from sensible, evidence-based public health policies with the Maine Legislature’s passage of the proposed regulation.
Well, the Health and Human Services Committee heard Richard and the majority agreed. This led to an overwhelming vote in the House and Senate and an eventual override of Governor LePage's veto.
We don't give out our Leadership in Advocacy award every year. It is only given out when truly warranted. This year I can't think of anyone else more deserving.
Thank you, Richard!