Kathy August - Inspiring students to make a difference


Kathy is a dedicated advocate for the AHA and a teacher of 35 years. At South Salem High School, she engages hundreds of students in the mission of the AHA and empowers them to make a difference. In recent years, Kathy and her students have gotten involved in many ways: They have held one schoolwide Hands Only CPR event training over 2,500 people to save a life. They’ve organized three Red Out nights raising dollars to support the AHA mission. For the past two years, they’ve trained decision makers and state staff in Hands Only CPR at the Oregon State Capitol.

Mrs. August, as her students know her, inspires them and us every year, and we wanted to share Kathy’s story with you…

Why is the American Heart Association’s mission important to you?

“I personally have WPW and diabetes, so I am very aware of what that does to my heart. My husband had a stent done several years ago.  Most of my students have at least one family member with a heart condition.  My brother in law died of a blood clot to the heart.  We had two students here that had heart transplants.”

Why do you advocate alongside the American Heart Association?

“Because they put their money where their mouth is.  When you donate to AHA, you know your money is helping educate, find a cure and support our community.  They came to me with a request and supported me 110% through the donation of shirts, ideas, and representation at all our events.  I have been teaching for 35 years and have been asked to help with hundreds of causes over the years.  I have never witnessed the enthusiasm, dedication, support and guidance as this organization.”

Why is preventing heart disease and/or stroke important to you?

“It is the number one killer of women and it’s important to educate our community on simple, healthy ways to take care of your heart and to help someone in distress.  Since teaching “Hands Only CPR” we have had three students come to me to tell me they helped with an elderly woman choking, pulled someone from a pool and started CPR, and helped with an elderly grandparent until paramedics arrived.  I can’t remember having that kind of impact with a presentation.”

What have you found particularly inspiring during your work with the AHA?

“I am impressed with the power of students to take on a challenge and give everything they can, receiving nothing monetary in return.” 

When it comes to fighting heart disease and stroke, we’re up against a lot. Describe a challenge you’ve faced—and why you haven’t given up?

“I have diabetes and struggle with my weight.  AHA gave me the courage to join a gym and to eat healthy.  I’ve lost 25 pounds in three months and I’ve been trying for years without any success.  The secret is to NOT give up.”

We agree, Kathy! Thank you so much for your efforts to make Oregon a healthier and safer place to live, and for inspiring future generations to follow your lead.

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