Frank Amend had never even heard of the American Heart Association before 2003.
That’s when, at 41 years old, he underwent a heart catherization procedure to have four stents implanted in his coronary arteries.
Frank joined the American Heart Association’s advocacy network by a fluke - when another volunteer could not attend national lobby day in Washington, DC, Frank’s cardiologist recommended him. In 2006 Frank required triple bypass surgery and he has been active in grassroots advocacy ever since.
Through starting as a advocate and volunteering for increasingly senior roles in North Carolina’s grassroots advocacy program, Frank had the opportunity to assist in the development of the state organization’s leadership structure and then help guide the group’s initial efforts. One of his fondest memories was seeing North Carolina’s passage of House Bill 2, which banned smoking in all restaurants and bars in the state. Although Frank stated that he came to work on this initiative during its later stages, he praises all the hard work contributed by the different members of the NC Alliance for Health as well as all the entire AHA NC grassroots organization that enabled the bill to be enacted. In recognition of all his work within the organization, Frank was awarded the American Heart Associations’ National Survivor of the Year Award in 2009.
Although Frank joined the advocacy committee by accident, he hasn’t regretted a single minute. He cherishes the friendships that he has made along with the important work that he and his fellow advocates have accomplished throughout the years. Most importantly, Frank enjoys witnessing the passion that people possess while advocating; especially the caregivers of those affected by cardiovascular disease. He feels strongly that volunteers are an integral part of the American Heart Association; as they, the AHA employees, and the medical community all work in synergy to put heart disease in the forefront of public health issues.
For those affected by heart disease/stroke, Frank encourages everyone to get involved and give back. He says survivors can have such a positive impact volunteering and making their voices heard about heart disease and its prevention.
He shares: "In my years as an AHA volunteer, I have received so much more in return for the seemingly small, in comparison, effort that I expended. I’ve spoken at presidential health care task force meetings, was appointed to Governor Purdue’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce, personally lobbied legislators in Raleigh and Washington, DC to further the goals of the AHA, and served on the Justice Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Taskforce by Governor McCory’s appointment. Me - just a simple guy from Rocky Mount, North Carolina. With all that though, it’s the relationships with fellow advocates and AHA staff that mean the most to me and my wife. I have been enriched so much by the interaction with my fellow advocates and look forward to our meetings where we can pool our individual expertise to really make a difference.”
Frank is a busy man who, along with all the above, also enjoys working in the yard, reading, going to the beach, and traveling with his wife.
Individuals like Frank help us to make You're the Cure robust, and effective, in inspiring policy change across the country. For advocates like Frank - and like you - we are thankful!