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Survivor Jim Myers Looking Forward to National, Local Advocacy to Lower Heart Disease

 

Jim Myers is a survivor, a father of 4, a husband and an advocate for the heart.

“I was young,” said Jim, “I had a heart attack 20 years ago at the age of 38. I was under a lot of stress – and was pretty oblivious to my family history. It happened when I alone, cutting Christmas trees for my family in forests of Northern New Mexico.  I had to drive 15 miles just to get back to civilization. I was helicoptered to Albuquerque some 4 hours later, so I lost some functioning of my heart."   

Years later, with a renewed sense of commitment towards healthy living and communities, Jim walked into the Albuquerque office of the American Heart Association hoping to be of help as a volunteer. His first year, he won the “Rookie of the Year 2002-2003” award for his work on the Heart Ball Gala committee.

He continued serving on various ELTs, helped as official photographer at Heart Walks, sang the National Anthem at others, then served as President of the AHA chapter from 2009-2010 and again in 2011-2013. Now he’s off the board, but currently Chairing the State Advocacy Committee and on the National Volunteer Oversight Group, meeting online and in Dallas once a year.

Jim’s day job is Outreach & Community Relations Manager at Presbyterian Healthcare at Home, but he’s found time to give back through advocacy at the American Heart Association and has made real impacts in New Mexico, speaking to the Albuquerque City Council in 2008 to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, helping stroke causes and other issues statewide.

“We worked on some pretty cool stuff last year,” said Jim, “For instance, legislation to require new born screenings for congenial heart disease. SB81 for EMS Pre-Hospital Accreditation, which made sure that stroke victims receive top level care, was also a big issue we won…unanimously.” 

April of this year marks the second time that Jim has lobbied for AHA on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  “This year, though our state delegation only had 2 appointments, I decided to walk in unannounced to our other 3 representative’s offices and make the case for more funding for the NIH and other AHA initiatives.  Turns out that constituents carry far more weight than paid lobbyist’s, so I encourage everyone to get involved with their Congress people, both at home and when possible, in Washington.”

Unfortunately, Jim’s luggage didn’t show up until the lobbying effort was over.  But being the marketing guy that he is, he sensed an opportunity. “The theme this year was ‘Step Up To The Plate,’ so I purchased a Washington National’s baseball tee (red of course).”  So while everyone was dressed to the 9’s, he was in his red t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes.  “It was a great ‘in’ to talk about the necessity for all of us to step up to the nutritional plate for our kids.”  Jim suggests we all go to Step Up to the Plate on the AHA website – and let Congress hear YOUR voice!

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