Willow Peterson – Junior at Montana State University Billings
Tobacco prevention and education work has been a major focus point in my life for seven years. In 8th grade, I joined my local tobacco prevention club. As I started high school, my classmates began to use tobacco products. Some of my close family members and friends got addicted to nicotine at a very young age. Seeing them cough until vomiting, having trouble breathing, and using any means to feed their addiction had a powerful impact on me. It hurt me to see them abuse an addictive product that would negatively impact their physical and mental health. As a result, I became a passionate health advocate.
I have had the great honor of working with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. As a sophomore in high school, I was chosen to represent Montana in their annual Youth Advocacy Symposium. I was flown out to Washington D.C. to work with other passionate youth from around the country. This program consists of a week of in-depth training from professionals and opportunities to talk to legislators at the federal level. I met with Senator Jon Tester to discuss how flavored tobacco is negatively impacting the lives of teens and young adults in Montana. I was asked to return in 2017 and 2018. This year, I joined as a Young Adult Ambassador. With help from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, I had the amazing opportunity to talk about my advocacy work in an interview with our local news station.
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Volunteer Spotlight – Meghan Grady
Have you heard of the Jump Rope For Heart Program? This month we wanted to thank a local teacher who has helped organize the program at her school for the last 5 years. Meghan shares what she likes about the program and why she continues to do it with students year after year.
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Advocate Highlight - Sheila Callahan
In 1995, Sheila Callahan was invited to the Heart Walk in Missoula, Montana, by her close friend and Heart Walk chairperson Kimberly Roth (pictured left to right). It was the first time the signature American Heart Association event took place in Missoula, prompting Sheila to ask what a Heart Walk was. “Your next pet project,” Kimberly replied.
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Advocate Spotlight - TJ Haynes
For TJ Haynes it was a matter of time. TJ recently threw out the first pitch at a Mustangs game in Dehler Park to promote the AHA’s Raise the Roof in Red campaign just after suffering a heart attack.