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“Heart of a Friend” Award and Eastern NC Advocacy Meeting


Recently, NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee Chair, Yolanda Dickerson and stroke advocate, Marie Welch joined a group of Eastern NC advocates and presented Senator Louis Pate (R-Wayne) with the 2013 NC AHA You’re the Cure “Heart of a Friend” award for his leadership and sponsorship of two bills during the 2013 Legislative Session.  Senator Pate was the lead Senate Sponsor on SB 456: Designate Primary Stroke Centers and was one of the primary sponsors for SB 98: Require Pulse Oximetry Newborn Screening.  Both bills were signed into law in May 2013 by Governor Pat McCrory. 

 “What a wonderful way for advocates to celebrate the passage of this important legislation by thanking the bills’ sponsor.  Senator Pate worked particularly hard on Senate Bill 456 to make sure that the bill was strong, good policy for North Carolina,” said Betsy Vetter, Senior Director of Government Relations. Advocates also had time to ask Senator Pate questions and discuss with him the importance of preventing cardiovascular disease and building healthier lives. 

After visiting with Senator Pate, the advocates rolled up their sleeves and spent some time learning about the issues AHA will be working on in 2014.  Of particular interest to the group were efforts to eliminate food deserts through healthy food financing and healthy corner store initiatives. Several members of the group were familiar with the healthy corner store pilot projects that has taken place in Pitt County and had firsthand experience working with local food distribution. There was a lively discussion about the challenges of ensuring everyone has access to healthy foods. 

Researchers are increasingly finding that there is a lot of truth to that old adage, “You are what you eat.” Along with regular exercise, weight management, and not smoking, a healthy diet is shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke and other chronic diseases and conditions. About one in every five North Carolinians is “food insecure” and will not have access to enough food this year.  Access to affordable and healthy foods is an important component to a healthy diet. The reality is North Carolina has over 171 food deserts across 57 counties, affecting 410,000 residents. 

Advocates in eastern NC took time during their meeting to write messages to Governor McCrory about the importance of eliminating food deserts in our state.  Join their efforts by sending a message to your lawmakers.

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