Thursday, March 27, 2008

AED Funding on the line-TAKE ACTION!

Legislation was passed during the 2007 Legislative session requiring all schools to have an automated external defibrillator (the device used to shock the heart when sudden cardiac arrest occurs) on site with trained staff and protocol in place.

However, there was no funding included in the bill so many schools currently lack an AED on campus. Contact your Legislator and ask them to make funding for AED a part of their agenda and to work with leadership to find the money to fund this effort.

Click here to urge lawmakers to make this funding a priority.

Some schools in the state are currently placing AEDs in their gyms and at sporting events. This effort was highlighted by the recent death of a high school basketball player in Little Rock and many schools are moving forward without the state funding.

The American Heart Association has been working with the Department of Education and many other entities to make sure that school authorities have the knowledge needed to make informed decision when purchasing the devices. The American Heart Association is very clear that AED protocol needs to be in place for the devices. It is vitally important that schools have a plan of action to take when an emergency situation arises.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Affiliate for Arkansas!

The American Heart Association is, of course, a national organization. As with any organization of its size and caliber, it can become difficult to accurately gauge the needs of each individual member of its constituency. Therefore, the AHA breaks it membership into “affiliates”. These affiliates are groups of states which ban together to empower one another in legislative and health initiative issues, under the guidance of the home organization. For the last several years Arkansas has been part of the “Heartland” affiliate. Our Heartland affiliate states included Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma, and as a lobbyist for the Heartland affiliate I was honored to spend time working on initiatives in many of these states. But as powerful as this affiliate was, it was becoming apparent that the needs of these states were so disparate that our impact was being lessened.

However, our dream of a new affiliate has been realized. We in the Advocacy Leadership Team had the dream of a new affiliate; one that would join together states with unique cultures, diversities and traditions, but similar health concerns. Our goal was to create a new “South Central Affiliate”, comprised of the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Leadership from these states came together to form the new affiliate in record time! Oklahoma and Arkansas have the highest mortality rates from Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, while Texas and New Mexico have large “high-risk” groups.

This change will allow us to continue to make significant progress toward our 2010 impact goal. We at the AHA hope to reduce the death rate from heart attack and stroke by 25% by this date, and to do that it is imperative that we focus on our high risk populations.

On a personal level this is an extremely exciting change. I was born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and have lived in Arkansas for the last 20 years. This new affiliate will allow me to work closely with legislators in the states are literally and figuratively nearest and dearest to my heart!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Speaking alongside Dr. Anthony Fletcher, President of the Board of the American Heart Association!

In my 8 years as a spokesperson and lobbyist for the American Heart Association I have been honored to speak across the nation. I’ve spoken to the Legislative houses in several states, worked in session with lawmakers, and hand-in-hand with former Governor and former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In each of those situations I felt so blessed and honored to be there, but never nervous. I know that I have a mission, and that God has given me a passion for this work. However, when asked to be a keynote speaker at the recent St. Vincent Hospital Women’s Cardiovascular Seminar, alongside Dr. Anthony Fletcher, I was a nervous wreck! Dr. Fletcher is not only a leading specialist in the field of women’s heart health; he is also President of the Board of the American Heart Association, Heartland Affiliate. Being included in this event was by far one of the biggest honors I’ve received as an advocate, but to be a keynote speaker along with Dr. Fletcher was mind blowing! However, I was asked to speak BEFORE Dr. Fletcher. It was like having a living fact checker in my audience, who would then be speaking following my presentation. Dr. Fletcher was very kind, and listened intently as I spoke for my allotted 20 minutes. I was horrified that he would begin his presentation by saying “everything she just said is wrong”. Blessedly, that was not the case. Upon completing my presentation and taking my seat Dr. Fletcher opened his remarks for thanking me for my passion, my work, and my words. He then continued his presentation, which included several references back to what I had shared. Over and over he said “As my colleague Mrs. Berry stated”, or “as Laine shared with us earlier”. It was truly overwhelming! It was so validating to have my message so warmly received by one of the fields leading minds. Dr. Fletcher and I then took questions from the audience, and I was able to stand side by side with a man who heals broken hearts every single day. What a blessing, and what an honor! Also, the surgeon who performed my mothers’ surgery almost 8 years ago was in attendance. It was overwhelming to look into the audience and see Dr. Michael Bauer, and know that this man saved my mothers life with his own hands. I feel I have come full circle in this journey; it all began at St. Vincent Health Center, with my mother as a patient and me a worried family member. Now, 8 years later, I was given the opportunity to return as a champion for women everywhere. What a change time can make and what a miracle each the intervening years have been.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Join us at the 2008 Central Arkansas Start! Heart Walk
April 26, 2008
8:00a.m. - Registration/Pre-Walk
9:00a.m. - Walk Begins
North Shore River Walk, North Little Rock
Get your team together today!
We are inviting you to come to our office and pick up your team captain packets and get training on the Heart Walk website.
March 6th
American Heart Association
909 W. 2nd Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
Drop by between the hours of:
7a.m. - 9a.m.
11a.m. – 1:00p.m.
You will be trained on:
1.) How to send emails to your family, friends, co-workers, etc.
2.) How to register your team on the Heart Walk website
3.) How to build your web-page
4.) How to enter Offline donations
5.) Any other questions you have.
The training is a come and go training so you do not have to stay the entire 2 hours.
Snacks will be provided!