My name is Christine Wooley and I am Mrs. Oregon International 2013. I was introduced to the American Heart Association as a delegate for the 2008 Mrs. Oregon International pageant. My first volunteer event was the annual Heart Ball. Hearing the extremely moving survivor stories at that event really hit home with me, as heart disease runs in our family. I have been volunteering for AHA ever since.
On January 18, 2012 I had the incredible honor of volunteering at Oregon Lobby Day. It was an empowering experience to be at the Oregon State Capitol, meeting advocates, telling personal stories of why we volunteer for AHA, and then talking to legislators on such important issues as tobacco prevention and CPR education requirements in high schools.
At Lobby Day I shared my personal story as well as my grandmother’s story. She died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 63, and at Lobby Day I shared for the first time that she had smoked cigarettes. Out of respect for her and knowing that she was very private about smoking I was hesitant to tell people that she smoked. Though, in retrospect, she would want me to share her story in an effort to save lives.
My grandmother was smart, beautiful, and exceptionally strong. By all accounts she lived an incredibly healthy life, with one exception, she smoked cigarettes. She started smoking in her youth and as an adult had become so addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes that she was never able to stop smoking, and died unexpectedly from a sudden heart attack. She had a predisposition for heart problems so smoking just added to the contributing factors of her untimely death. I miss her immensely and not a day goes by that I don't think about her. Knowing her death was preventable makes me even more passionate about sharing her story.
In my grandmother’s legacy and as an advocate for the American Heart Association, I hope to make a difference in raising awareness. Lobby Day 2013 is on February, 28. Please join us; RSVP today! I hope to see you there!
- Guest Blogger Christine Wooley