Dr. Bob Blackburn, North Carolina
Dr. Blackburn started his career as a volunteer with the American Heart Association in 1973. In a nutshell, why did he get involved? He was working with students and saw the impact tobacco was taking on their lives. The tremendous need for our youth to have better health started him on a path that he has followed for more than forty years.
Dr. Blackburn took his passion and turned it into reality by creating a heart health training center at Gardner Webb University, where he was teaching. At the same time he became more involved with the AHA helping on various committees and wherever he could make a difference. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Affiliate of the American Heart Association in 1991, and on the NC Board from 1990-1994.
He has served on the national steering committee for Jump Rope for Heart and been a long time member of the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee. From 1973 to now, he has stayed true to one theme: improving health for students through prevention.
When asked what was the one moment that rose above the rest, he responded it came in the late seventies when he worked with the AHA to create a curriculum for physical education teachers’ called "Putting your Heart in the Curriculum." He said it was a great experience that included a visit to AHA’s National Center in Dallas.
With more than forty years as a volunteer, Dr. Blackburn has witnessed a number of remarkable policy advances including NC’s smoke-free law.
Dr. Blackburn is a native of North Carolina. He is retired now and reports that his favorite things to do are spending time with his grandchildren, walking, and being with others. Retirement hasn’t meant slowing down as a volunteer. Dr. Blackburn says the work must continue because major challenges still exist and his commitment to prevention and the AHA mission remains strong.
He ended the conversation with some wisdom he’s gained along the way:
· Don’t burn bridges and don’t get mad at your legislators, two years from now you may need them.
· See the big picture and keep moving forward.
· You can make a difference – stand up and advocate!
On behalf of You’re the Cure and the American Heart Association, thank you Dr. Blackburn for your advocacy!