I have become more involved in the American Heart Association in recent years because of my desire to support a health related organization where I can have an impact. There are so many ways to be involved with the AHA and I know I am making a difference for my family, my community and my state.
As an AHA Advocate, I have participated in several events including the Heart Walk, the Circle of Red, National Wear Red Day and the Go Red for Women Luncheon. This year, I am looking forward to organizing fellow Augustana College employees to join me in the National Walking Day initiative in April. I have also used the online tools available through You’re the Cure to contact state legislators about initiatives important for promoting heart health for South Dakotans. Recently, this has included encouraging legislators to maintain our smoke-free laws and ensuring that all newborn babies in South Dakota are screened for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. I am also encouraging state and local officials to consider CPR as a high school graduation requirement – the more people trained, the more lives saved!
One of the best parts about being an AHA advocate is the knowledge I have gained personally about ways to keep myself and my family heart healthy. In the past few years, I have lost weight, exercised more, and been more mindful of making healthy meals for my busy family. I am aware of warning signs for both heart attacks and strokes, and I have been faithful about tracking my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Being an advocate has made me aware of heart healthy choices, and for that I am especially grateful.