Southwest Advocates Celebrate AHA Centennial

Last week, two of our wonderful advocates from the Southwest Region who serve on the National Advocacy Coordinating Committee had the opportunity to be in Chicago to help celebrate the American Heart Association’s 100th birthday. Below, Cheyenne Brown of Wyoming and Jaelene Dismuke of Texas, talk about the experience.

hero_image_alt_text===Jaelene and Cheyenne
thumbnail_alt_text===Jaelene and Cheyenne


Last Monday evening, I walked off of an elevator and into a sea of red. Red ties, red suit jackets, red dresses, and red hearts everywhere. Being ushered immediately onto a red carpet for the American Heart Association’s “Bold Hearts” Centennial Celebration was an experience I will never forget.

However, the fun had only begun. While it was hard to top meeting some incredible people and watching The Temptations perform live, the following day I had a wonderful meeting with the National Advocacy Coordinating Committee, of which I am a member, to approve plans for the AHA’s upcoming initiatives. Being a longtime volunteer with the AHA has been an amazing privilege, and my trip to Chicago was no exception.

The quality paired with the quantity of work the AHA plans to tackle in the next decade is admirable. Being the youngest member of the committee has revealed to me the heart behind this organization’s core, and it is to reduce ALL deaths and disabilities caused by stroke and cardiovascular disease. This requires unwavering commitment to inclusivity; emphasizing the differences in people culturally, socially, regionally, etc., and acknowledging that each and every factor can play into the well being and livelihood of all. I’m incredibly honored to stand with the American Heart Association and its mission to “be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.”

Cheyenne Brown, left, and Jaelene Dismuke, right, pose with Larry Cannon, AHA Chief Administration Officer



Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the American Heart Association’s Bold Hearts 100 Year Anniversary Celebration in Chicago. A chance for a small town Wyoming girl to head to the big city? I couldn’t pass it up!

As usual with its events, the AHA didn’t miss a single detail in planning. The Drake Hotel was absolutely stunning, and the magic in the atmosphere was palpable as we gathered in the very same room where the AHA had been formed 100 years ago. What an honor to be included in that room of world changers – those leading the charge on the next century of advocacy and research that will save the lives of millions. I even had the chance to leave a note in the time capsule, which will be opened 100 years from now. It’s a bit mind boggling to try to comprehend the medical advancements that will be made by then, but I know it will be possible because of the passion and authentic drive of those in attendance. It was – and rightfully so – the party of the century. 

The following morning was filled with networking and committee meetings before flying home. I’ve had the honor of serving on the AHA’s National Advocacy Coordinating Committee for the past four years. This quarter’s agenda was even more robust than usual - but I suppose that’s what happens when you have an entire century to celebrate, and another one to immediately strategize for. The AHA doesn’t take a day for granted. I’m always humbled to be included in a room with some of the most elite cardiovascular medical professionals the world has to offer – and every time, everyone is so kind and willing to hear my thoughts and opinions.

I aim to represent the youth and those in rural communities across America, where opportunity to advanced medical care might be more limited or simply not taken seriously by residents in need of it. I strongly believe youth advocates are the entire future of the American Heart Association, as they will be the key to remaining relevant in a society bombarded with cardiovascular inhibitors. Our younger generations have the potential to take the future into their own hands and create a world where heart disease and stroke is NOT the No. 1 killer of men and women – and what a large opportunity that is.

The medical professionals and corporate executives can do the imperative work of developing life saving medical technology and policy, but without grassroots advocates in each state, it will never reach people most impacted by it. When an advocate looks at an item of policy, is able to form a personal connection and story from it, and shares that with others in their network, real change happens. These advocates are the bold hearts we need to propel the next 100 years! I’m honored to be playing my part in the history of the AHA, and I invite everyone else to do the same. It ALL matters – even if you come from a “small state” like Wyoming. The AHA has changed my life, afforded incredible opportunities to me and connected me with some of the very best people I’ve had the pleasure of including in my circle. I’m so grateful for the lives it saves every single day. May we continue to be just as bold and relentless in the next century and beyond!

Cheyenne Brown, left, and Jaelene Dismuke.



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