Meet Dr. Deon Vigilance
Dr. Deon Vigilance has served as a champion for improved health policy in Philadelphia since joining the AHA’s Philadelphia Board. He has been a leading voice in public health on the need to address the social determinants of health that will improve the significant health disparities seen in Philadelphia; a city where residents who live less than two miles apart can have nearly a decade difference in life expectancy.
Amy Cavaliere, Advocate Spotlight
I was healthy, active and only 35 years old when I experienced a sudden cardiac arrest. With no history of heart disease, I thought I was just having a panic attack, but luckily my husband insisted on calling 911 because on our way to the hospital, my heart stopped.
Michelle Bianco, Volunteer-Advocate
I am proud to call myself a volunteer advocate for the American Heart Association for nearly ten years. My personal and professional experience with stroke and cardiac disease has sparked a passion in me to support the mission of the American Heart Association.
hero_image_alt_text===Michelle Bianco speaking
thumbnail_alt_text===Michelle Bianco speaking
Meet Kaitlyn Lucas
On April 22nd 2016, I was diagnosed with Pericarditis, a bacterial streptococcal infection that attacked my heart and hospitalized me for several days.
Theresa Conejo, Pennsylvania
My name is Theresa Conejo and I have been a You’re the Cure Advocate and AHA/ASA volunteer since 2007. While attending an American Heart/Stroke Association sponsored event at my workplace, I took the pledge and signed on. As a seasoned, Cardiovascular Nurse of thirty years, I see daily the devastating results of these diseases. Whether I am teaching a newly diagnosed patient with atrial fibrillation on the use of Coumadin, reviving a heart attack patient with CPR or assisting a stroke victim with his meals, I see and do it all.
Amiee, Chad and Emilee Mathews, Pennsylvania
Emilee was born on October 11, 2003, with what was considered a slight heart murmur. Within months, Dr. Paul Chlpka recognized Emilee’s heart murmur was intensifying and promptly referred us to Dr. Grace Smith a pediatric cardiologist. Dr. Smith informed us that Emilee’s heart murmur was caused by an atrial septal defect (ASD), or a hole between the two upper chambers of her heart. Over time, this would cause the right upper chamber (right atrium) to become overworked and enlarged, eventually damaging her heart.
Dana, Paul and Sam, Pennsylvania
When I was pregnant with each of our boys, my husband and I did not know their gender. We wanted to be surprised. We didn't care if we had boys or girls, "as long as they're healthy." We said it dozens of times, never imagining something would be wrong with one of our children. We took it for granted.
Lisa, Donny and Jack Scarfo, Pennsylvania
Jack was prenatally diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a complex congenital heart defect, prior to his birth on April 15, 2008. Jack and his twin brother, Nathan, were delivered in Philadelphia in the event that Jack should require his open heart surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia immediately after birth.
Cathy Seitz, Pennsylvania
On January 4th, 1994, I suffered from a heart attack. I was only 33 years old. My youngest child was born three months earlier. I was holding him and feeding him a bottle when I felt shortness of breath and a little chest discomfort. Then my arm started to ache. I thought he was getting heavy, so I finished feeding him and laid him down. And that is how my story begins.
Geoffrey Roche, Pennsylvania
Geoffrey Roche, longtime AHA Pennsylvania Field Representative and Chair of the Policy and Legislative Planning Committee, is passionate about advocating for comprehensive smoke free air laws with no exemptions, a pillar of the AHA’s tobacco control advocacy efforts.