At the end of June, more than 330 American Heart Association volunteers and staff from 46 states, including Texas, traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for federal research support and key legislation that will benefit Americans with cardiovascular disease (CVD). The advocates urged their members of Congress to prioritize National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for heart and stroke research and to support bills that would expand access to stroke telemedicine (telestroke) and cardiac rehabilitation. They also encouraged their lawmakers to oppose the American Health Care Act or any Senate substitute that reduces access to affordable and adequate health care coverage.
Each volunteer had a unique story and perspective to share, and we are grateful for our Texas advocates, who traveled over 1500 miles to Washington D.C., to advocate for heart-healthy and stroke-smart policies. On the Hill, they had a chance to share their unique perspectives with our Texas lawmakers.
We had an amazing delegation of Texas advocates, each with a unique connection to cardiovascular diseases and a personal story to share.
- Allison D'Auteuil from Dallas. She volunteered with the American Heart Association to honor her father and daughter who both have congenital heart defects.
- Catalina Berry from Austin. She sees the value and importance of leading a healthier lifestyle, in order to prevent illness, and participates with greater passion given that her Daddy is a heart attack survivor.
- Christopher Pena from San Antonio. As a cardiovascular and cancer research scientist at UT Health in San Antonio. Given his career, he knows importance of cardiovascular research
- Connie Kerr from Arlington. She is passionate about creating community change, in order to protect others and was instrumental in passing a smoke-free ordinance in her city.
- Courtney White from Missouri City. She is dedicated to advocating for policies that affect community health and the well-being of women, children, and families.
- Gisella Oliva from McKinney. She has been a volunteer for 25 years and has served in many capacities at the AHA, including volunteer, spokesperson, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser.
- James Postl from Houston. He is the chairman-elect of the American Heart Association.
- John D. Warner, M.D., MBA is from Dallas. He is the president-elect of the American Heart Association.
- Mary Almendarez is from Houston. Mary believes all of us can make a difference by educating and assisting our communities, in order to combat heart-related problems
- Maggie Brown is a youth advocate from Cedar Park. When she was 2 1/2, she had open heart surgery for an atrial septal defect and mitral valve cleft - the same heart defects her mom was born with.
- Maureen Chase is from Cedar Park. Maureen is a heart disease survivor and her daughter and granddaughter have both had open heart surgeries due to congenital heart defects.
- Suzie Chase Brown is from Cedar Park. She enjoys every opportunity to talk about how all the women in her family have heart disease/defects and they encourage others to maintain heart-healthy habits.
- Tiger Brown is a youth advocate from Cedar Park. He volunteers with the AHA because the most important women in my life (my grandmother, my mother and my little sister) have heart disease/defects.
- Steve Kerr is from Arlington. He is married to Connie and has supported her advocacy efforts from city hall, to the state capitol, and all the way to the Hill.
- Tania Noelle Boughton is from Dallas. Tania has led volunteer efforts to increase access to healthy food, thereby decreasing childhood obesity in Texas through advocacy for the American Heart Association.
- Tara Robinson is from Fort Worth. Her motivation stems from her own personal experience with heart disease, which is why she raises her voice for a better tomorrow for heart disease and stroke policies.