Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Government Relations Director, Utah
This past month we had the privilege of celebrating many wonderful holidays. From Groundhogs Day to Valentines, from President’s Day to Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17th). But most importantly, let’s not forget that February was also American Heart Month! The American Heart Association|American Stroke Association chose February to raise the awareness about the importance of heart and stroke issues – the #1 and #4 killers in America today.
On the first Friday of each February, we host our annual Heart on the Hill Lobby Da. It also happens to be National Wear Red Day. On this day we spread awareness about heart disease and stroke and also lobby for heart-healthy legislation. The turnout for this year’s event was absolutely wonderful and drew substantial media coverage.
First, Representative Paul Ray kicked off the event by sharing his story about his lifelong battle with cardiovascular issues. He was born with a congenital heart defect and has survived multiple heart surgeries. His connection with cardiovascular issues has led him to be an AHA champion for many years!
Next, Scott Hunt, an employee at VLCM, was honored for his life-saving efforts in which he and fellow employee Gavin Fenton saved the life of Kent Carothers who suffered a heart attack while at work. Scott and Gavin rushed to Kent’s side to perform CPR and because of their heroic efforts Kent is alive and well today! Please read his story here.
Subsequently, Dr. Lillian Khor – a cardiovascular surgeon at the University of Utah and current President of the Utah Board of Directors – trained our volunteers on the techniques of Hands-Only CPR. She also spoke in depth about the importance of restoring funding for CPR Training in High Schools across the state.
Lastly, Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart taught our volunteers about the legislative process and provided effective tips to communicating with our local elected officials. The Speaker is a Registered Nurse and a longtime proponent of heart-healthy legislation. This will be her last session in the legislature and we express our gratitude to her for her many years of service!
To round out our activities on the Hill, there was special presentation on the House and Senate Floor lead by Representative Carol Spackman-Moss (a heart survivor herself) and Senator Brian Shiozawa (an Emergency Room Physician), respectively. These legislators honored a number of “Heart Savers” from across the state – including Scott, a few college students who saved the life of their professor, and two High School football coaches who saved the life of one of their athletes – for being lifesavers. There were few dry eyes amongst the crowd, including our elected officials.
I would like to pay special thanks to the many staff, volunteers, and attendees who made this year’s Heart on the Hill an absolute success! Your response to our call for action and the restoration of CPR training funds have resonated with legislators from across the political spectrum. While there are just a few days left in the legislative session, we have high hopes that these funds will be restored and our children and grandchildren will once again receive CPR training in their classrooms!
Thanks for all of your help!