28 FebUntil We Meet Again

After nearly 39 years with the American Heart Association, my last day has finally arrived.

As I reflect on your many contributions to our affiliate and our great organization, I simply cannot thank you enough for your commitment to serving our communities in fulfilling our mission — and to making my work here truly memorable.

AHA's Eric Batch is nominated for an award at the 100 Black Men of Orange County galaWhat better way to close out my week than with a special staff highlight. It seems I just can’t say this enough – our affiliate team is among the best out there. Our Vice President of Advocacy Eric Batch was recently named the recipient of the 2014 Community Service Award from the 100 Black Men of Orange County. The award will be presented at their annual gala in March. This prestigious award is given to individuals committed to the development and implementation of efforts which seek to improve the quality of life for African-Americans and other persons in communities locally, and throughout the nation. Eric will be recognized as an individual who has made a significant impact through his community service and advocacy work on behalf of the American Heart Association. Wow, Eric, I am so proud of you – and not one bit surprised! (Eric also happened to be the 2012 Western States Affiliate Award of Excellence winner – the highest individual award in the affiliate).

Local business leaders in Phoenix had an opportunity to be kids for a day by attending the Halle Heart Children’s Museum Open House. Visitors enjoyed heart-healthy snacks while getting a firsthand look at one of the Valley’s premier education-oriented venues — which sees nearly 30,000 students, parents and educators throughout the year.  Guests learned about heart health, the benefits of exercise, eating right and the importance of avoiding tobacco products. What a great way to share this incredible resource!Local business leaders in Phoenix had an opportunity to be kids for a day by attending the Halle Heart Children's Museum Open House

Seattle cooking demo - allrecipesTalk about a great pairing… Last week in Seattle, volunteers had a terrific Circle of Red party to help build momentum for the upcoming luncheon. The Headquarters of Allrecipes.com opened its kitchen to host the gathering. Circle of Red Chair and Go Red Ambassador Susan Levy welcomed all 25 guests with an introduction to our mission. The guest speaker was Dr. Sarah Speck, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.C., a well-known and respected local women’s cardiologist, who engaged guests in a compelling discussion with stories and statistics about women and heart health. She then opened up the forum for questions/answers which proved to be very popular. Volunteer Susan Levy, who is also the founder of Wellfedheart.com, did a wonderful healthy cooking demo for all. This influential group renewed $9,000 in Circle of Red memberships at the event. Great work!Susan Levy of Allrecipes gives a cooking demo in Seattle

In other Go Red news… the Central Valley division beamed a little extra star power at its recent Go Red For Women luncheon in Clovis. CA, – in the form of Star Jones. I understand she did a wonderful job of inspiring passion and laughs as the keynote speaker. Ms. Jones shared her incredible story of overcoming open-heart surgery and maintaining heart health and raised awareness of heart disease in women with her candor and humor. Attendees held on to every word and in the end gave Star a standing ovation. Other highlights included a Macy’s fashion show featuring local survivors and volunteers being escorted by local firemen. Some very moving passion speakers also shared their amazing stories of love, loss and triumph over heart disease. Special thanks to passion speakers Marci Bower, Sandy Raco and Sam Keeney, and to Star Jones for making this year’s Central Valley luncheon a resounding success!
Women shine bright in red at the 2014 Central Valley Go Red For Women LuncheonStar Jones speaks at the 2014 Central Valley Go Red For Women Luncheon
I am excited to share that our new WSA Executive Vice President, Kathy Rogers, will be continuing to blog as a means to share thoughts and successes that make our organization unique. Please keep a look out for her blog in the next few weeks. I will be sun setting mine on March 15, so if there are any stories from the past that you would like to copy and keep – you might want to do it before then!

As I close for the last time, a special thanks for the emails and well wishes you have sent my way and to the staff in Burlingame and Los Angeles for the recent opportunities to visit with you.
Roman's "Until We Meet Again" Lunch in Los Angeles, CARoman says until we meet again to the Burlingame, CA office

Please know that each one of you is making an extraordinary impact…saving lives, helping others live healthier lives and gain peace of mind about advancing the fight against heart disease and stroke.  And, for this, I am extremely grateful.


Roman Bowser (RET)

21 FebHeart Month Rolls On…

I continue to be so impressed by the remarkable stories that pass by my desk. I wish I could fit them all in every post! For now – here are a few more…

Heart Month continues in Montana with Healthy Native HeartsBig news from Montana as more than 50 Native American women gathered for the third annual Healthy Native Hearts event. This experience is so important in serving a population that needs health and wellness support in every way. I had the privilege of attending the first luncheon and was both saddened and inspired by what I saw – saddened at the state of health tendencies and inspired by the hope for change. We provided screenings, educational materials and healthy tastings created by high school culinary students. There was also a surprise, last-minute visit from newly appointed Lt. Governor Angela McLean, (pictured). Two different television stations were on hand to do interviews and help promote the event. Fantastic work!

Dana Vollmer celebrates Heart Month at the San Francisco Go Red For Women LuncheonOlympic fever hit close to home in the Western States Affiliate as Olympic Gold Medalist and Go Red For Women Ambassador Dana Vollmer was on hand to serve as the keynote speaker at the San Francisco Go Red For Women Luncheon. The Hotel Council chose the American Heart Association as the beneficiary of a $250,000 fundraising campaign, which will wrap up at the end of March – a gold medal win in my heart for sure!

In an engaging and fun way to encourage kids, Harlem Globetrotters stars Scooter Christensen and Wun Versher joined students of Park Century School in Culver City, CA, at a Jump Rope For Heart event. The players showcased their awesome basketball skills and spoke about the benefits of regular physical activity to fight heart disease. The school (with less than 200 students) raised more than $20,000 – a remarkable accomplishment considering this is their first year participating! In addition, the school donated $200 more to help the Los Angeles office purchase a new Ticker heart costume. Congratulations to the students of Park Century School and we thank you for your gift to keep Ticker ticking.The Harlem Globe Trotters celebrate Heart Month in Culver City with students of Park Century School

Jacque Marianno and Brandon Osborn celebrate Heart Month at a ski resort in Loveland, CODedicated employee Jacque Marianno shares her passion for the American Heart Association wherever she goes. While visiting family and ski resorts in Colorado, Jacque and her boyfriend created a fun heart sighting. The ski resort’s name is Loveland, which was too apropos to pass up for Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month. Using a red sports drink, they colored a heart into the side of a small jump. I understand other skiers were also impressed and had fun taking pictures and enjoying the lovely sight with their cameras.

A fabulous Go Red For Women luncheon in Fairbanks, AK, brought in stroke survivor and former TV personality Mark McEwen to help host the event. You will remember Mark from the CBS Morning Show. The event is expected to meet goal – grossing close to $300,000! What makes this especially remarkable? Fairbanks has a population of just over 32,000. Talk about a community coming together to support an important cause! Some 35 guests became Circle of Red members (committing to $1,000 or more) and the auction had over 150 items and raised more than $24,000. This has become a “go-to” event in Fairbanks and even Alaska Governor Shawn Parnell and his wife Sandy attended. Congratulations and thank you to the many people who helped this special event come together!More American Heart Month festivities in Fairbanks at the 2014 Go Red For Women LuncheonFairbanks, AK celebrates American Heart Month with the Go Red For Women Luncheon

Stater Brothers serves up healthy red treats in honor of American Heart MonthCorporate sponsors are such an important part of our success as an organization. Stater Bros. Supermarkets “Have a Heart” campaign has broken all historical revenue records! This is the 13th year of their involvement and they recently reported that so far this year, they have raised an incredible $543,000 and counting! This represents a 49 percent increase over last year’s income. Sharing our mission with their employees is a top priority for the company. On Wear Red Day, all cashiers wore red ties and their corporate headquarters also “went red” where educational information and healthy snacks were available for all. Thank you to the wonderful volunteers at Stater Bros. for supporting this incredible effort!
Stater Bros. staff dons red ties and aprons in honor of American Heart Month!

 Finally this week, our friends in advocacy supported Wear Red Day efforts from the California Assembly chamber floor in Sacramento where the Legislature adopted the resolution for Heart Month and Wear Red Day. Assembly Member Joan Buchanan carried the resolution to the cheers of other Assembly members, volunteers and staff on hand.The California State Assembly wore their best red in honor of American Heart Month

Keep the stories coming! My apologies if I have not been able to include your story yet. There are so many – a wonderful challenge each week to fit in as much as possible. Have a great weekend.

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.

14 FebHonoring Hearts This Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. As you honor those you love, let’s also remember the millions of others who are able to celebrate with loved ones because of our lifesaving work. Valentine’s Day is the midpoint of American Heart Month, which has always been associated with bold moves to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke. The Go Red For Women movement is a classic, current example — and we have lots to share this week.

Ten years ago when we launched the Go Red movement, the wrap-up report was likely a lot shorter than what we’re seeing today. The many items you’ve shared really show how communities have embraced the movement. Local landmarks across the affiliate, including Los Angeles International Airport, lit up red as a visual reminder that women have the power to beat heart disease. In Phoenix, AZ, First Solar spelled it out using the windows on its building.
Los Angeles International Airport Goes Red For WomenPhoenix First Solar spells Go Red in windows


Annual Go Red Strut in San Francisco



The fun factor always draws attention for Go Red….like Hockey with Heart in Stockton, CA and the annual Go Red Strut in San Francisco, CA, where the big finale was a one-of-a-kind red balloon dress.  Our You’re The Cure advocates spread the Go Red message at State Capitols in Utah and California. Heart on the Hill participants are pictured in Salt Lake City; Capitol Goes Red in Sacramento drew lawmakers and staff.Utah and Sacramento Go Red at the Capitol

In San Diego, CA, it was difficult to turn on the TV, the radio, or even a computer without seeing red on National Wear Red Day. Among the highlights was the San Diego Union-Tribune Night and Day section and the UTSD website – both of which embraced the cause. In addition, our Spanish-language media sponsor Univision helped raise awareness by having on-air talent wear red and by using the morning to talk about the cause and what viewers could do to live a healthier lifestyle.San Diego - Univision and UTSD Go Red For Women!

In Southern California LA 18 celebrated National Wear Red Day for the first time

Our Health Equity outreach efforts have really paid off during Heart Month, with lots of media support in many languages. The Japanese daily newspaper in Hawaii, The Hawaii Hochi, featured Wear Red Day on Feb. 3.  In Southern California for the first time this year, Asian TV station LA 18 participated in National Wear Red Day. News anchors for the Chinese, Korean and Filipino news and talk shows all wore red.

Go Red national sponsor Macy’s figured prominently in many of our activities. In Las Vegas, NV, and Portland, OR, winners of its Total Makeover Contest drew lots of attention. That’s Bernie Delany in Portland holding bags of potatoes representing her dramatic weight loss and the before and after photos of Jennifer Smith in Las Vegas. Their determination is an inspiration, for sure.Macy's Go Red Total Makeover - Bernie and Jennifer both show off their weight loss!

Chance and Cadance Mitchell - congenital heart disease survivors and amazing volunteers

It’s great to see that Go Red impacts all ages … like the Southern California school that went red for the Mitchell Family. Cadance and Chance and their mother Melissa were all born with heart defects. So, as Melissa puts it – last Friday “was a big day for hearts here.” She chronicles their experiences in a wonderful blog called Three Fixed Hearts about the trials and tribulations of life with congenital heart defects. We are so lucky to have them as dedicated volunteers.

Survivor and volunteer Vance Lobe with AHA's Francesca Minas are "Stayin' Alive"

And, it’s fun to see that red was not the only fashion statement over the weekend. White disco suits were the vogue for Stayin’ Alive Saturday at Alderwood Mall Center in Lynnwood, WA, just north of Seattle. This fun event is truly representative of the many activities which have taken place around the affiliate in recent days to raise awareness about women and heart disease. It had all the elements — a Macy’s fashion show, great health tips, blood pressure screenings, Zumba, and of course, Hands Only CPR training. The white suited-contingent leading the crowd in moves to the disco classic “Stayin’ Alive” included heart survivor and volunteer Vance Lobe and Communications Director Francesca Minas.

Go Red For Women at Alderwood Mall - Stayin' Alive Saturday

Speaking of Seattle, thanks to Steve  Zieniewicz, Board Chairmen of our Puget Sound division, for answering last week’s request for personal Wear Red fashion statements. Love that tie! Another response came from Jenni Dingeldein in Portland, OR, who noted “Snowpocalypse” on Feb. 7 made it impossible for the division team to snap a Go Red photo because they were all working from home. So Jenni sent a selfie, saying, “I’m not letting this snow day affect my personal celebration of Wear Red Day! I’m celebrating today in honor of the women I love, and for myself (now a heart disease survivor).”Steve and Jenni Go Red while at work

LAs Vegas Chefs Go RedThere’s no way I can possibly mention all of the Go Red highlights I’ve received…so I will close with a photo that I think captures the spirit of the movement.  It’s from the Go Red Por Tu Corazon luncheon in Las Vegas — Chefs Sharynne Frazer and Mayra Trabulse delighting in the success of the popular event.

Heart Month still has two weeks to go…so be sure to submit your activities and photos for publication next week – I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend!

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.

06 FebHappy Heart Month, Happy Wear Red Day!

Has it really been 10 years? It’s hard to believe – but indeed, it has! I remember the first year we launched the Go Red For Women campaign. People were a little confused – what did that mean, exactly? How wonderful it is that 10 years later it has become an incredible national campaign where every year popular landmarks, businesses and media all go red in support of this wonderful cause. It’s your turn – please share pictures of the activities that you took part in today, and I will share them next Friday in a special Wear Red Day themed post. I look forward to hearing from you!

I have a fun Go Red related highlight from the North Bay to share. Kaiser Permanente is the local Wear Red Day sponsor. Many don’t realize that Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was from Santa Rosa, and there are statues of the comic strip characters all around the city. Thanks to volunteer Judy Coffey, close to 50 Peanuts characters went red – including in Sonoma County Airport! What a fun and memorable way to celebrate the cause.
Judy Coffey of Kaiser celebrates Wear Red Day with Peanuts character Lucy in Santa RosaSnoopy celebrates Wear Red Day in Santa Rosa

And we received big media in Coachella Valley as the famous Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs went red in honor of Heart Month and Wear Red Day. Check out the quick video story about this amazing landmark helping to garner attention and raise awareness about women and heart disease. The Coachella Valley Go Red For Women luncheon was today in Indian Wells– I look forward to hearing about what I am sure was a very successful event.The city of Palm Springs lights up the famous Forever Marilyn Monroe statue in red to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Go Red For Women campaign. Heart Disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined for women - but it is preventable. February is American Heart Month and Marilyn is helping bring awareness to these issues in Palm Springs.

Anchorage, AK, is off to a great start for American Heart Month as all of the headlines in the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) went RED on Saturday, Feb. 1 as part of their support for Go Red For Women. The Tuesday issue of the newspaper featured a large Go Red ad, and the  Wednesday supplement also went into Go Red mode with red headlines and info about women and heart disease. In addition to Go Red,  ADN is also a sponsor for the Heart Run this spring and donated ad space for the Heart Walk last September. Thank you to this supportive sponsor for helping to raise awareness in a big way!Alaska Daily News Goes Extra Red for Wear Red Day
Anchorage Daily News celebrates National Wear Red Day by turning their pages RED

Advocacy continues to take a front seat as volunteers visit state capital’s to share our priorities and policy ideas with important legislators. Last week in Arizona, You’re the Cure advocates and survivors were in Phoenix meeting with legislators to share AHA policy priorities – related to healthier newborns, CPR in schools and providing safe places for children to play. Attendees heard the poignant and passionate stories from Molly Wright and Demaree Wilson that know first-hand why Pulse Ox testing for newborns is so important. They also heard from Jane Powers, a survivor that was saved by CPR. Three television stations covered the festivities as more than 100 attendees — children and adults — learned Hands-Only CPR.
Legislators learn CPR at the 2014 Arizona Lobby DayAHA Arizona Lobby Day 2014

San Diego Youth Market Director, Jennie Brane with her sister who was recently diagnosed with a heart defectThis week I received a lovely note from San Diego Youth Market Director, Jennie Brane. She wanted to share a recent personal connection to our mission and thank others for the work that they do. Two months ago, her sister Julie was diagnosed with a heart condition that she was born with that had previously gone undetected. Julie is a 32-year-old, “healthy” mother and no one expected this troubling news. Though she faces surgery next month to repair her “sick” heart, Jennie shared that she is so thankful to volunteers past and present who have made it possible for such a surgery to exist. I am thankful to be able to share that Julie will not have to undergo open-heart surgery but rather will be able to have a much less invasive procedure to repair her heart. In addition, doctors say because of medical advances, she should be able to live a normal, healthy life. Thank you for sharing this story, Jennie – and we will be thinking of you, Julie!

Finally this week – I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to submit a photo for my “New Year, New You” blog contest. I was impressed at the diversity of the entries and it was quite difficult to choose winners! With a little consultation from some colleagues – here is where I landed:

  • Most Inspiring: Jenni Dingeldein, snowshoeingJenni Dingeldein joins a Go Red For Women snowshoe event hosted by a volunteer in memory of her mother
  • Most Adventurous: Melissa Wilimas, snowboarding with her family
Melissa Wilimas in Orange County, CA, said she was bound and determined to introduce her family to snowboarding this year
  • Most Creative: Kelli Petragallo, unplug and exercise
In the Petragallo household physical activity, like wall sits, earn you more play time

Congratulations – and look for a little something in the mail from me in the next few weeks!

Don’t forget to submit your Wear Red Day activities and photos for publication next week – I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend!

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.

31 JanMemories Are Made of This

One of my many lasting memories, cutting my tie for retirement with my colleagues in the Greater Bay Area.I have said so often, that many times our staff do not come to the American Heart Association by chance. Last week I was able to spend time in our Oakland office. During a staff meeting, Kathy Peirano shared that she lost her father in 1972. He smoked 50-60 cigarettes a day and died much too young. This led her to become an intern at the AHA and eventually, a full time employee. I’ve known Kathy since December 1986 when we worked together in the Burlingame office. To mark my upcoming departure, she came up with the idea to have a ceremonial necktie cutting, sharing that I’ll always have ties with the AHA. Thank you Greater Bay Area division – I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you!Roman Bowser with GBA office

. Launched in November 2013 through a grant from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the Juntos program seeks to engage 200 at-risk Latinos to control blood pressure and lower their risk for heart disease and stroke. A little farther south in Salinas, CA, our Health Equity team worked with health mentors to implement the first series of Juntos workshops where over 100 community members enrolled in our Heart360 on-line program. Launched in November 2013 through a grant from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the Juntos program seeks to engage 200 at-risk Latinos to control blood pressure and lower their risk for heart disease and stroke. Participants are dedicated to the four-month program and look forward to following up with health mentors bi-monthly through April, 2014. Congratulations and thank you to the volunteers and staff that made this possible – you are saving and improving lives!

And Go Red is really heating up in Phoenix with 2014 Go Red Ambassadors gathering recently to strategize and plan how they are going to improve the health of their community. This special group includes survivors, caregivers and other women who want to make a difference by sharing their personal stories and experiences with heart disease or stroke. The unique thing about the Phoenix Go Red Ambassadors is that they are not just dedicated to one event – they raise awareness about Go Red all year – grassroots activities, health fairs, recruiting companies to participate, speaking to churches and more! They meet every month, rotating between conference calls and face-to-face meetings. Amazing dedication, thank you!2014 Go Red For Women Ambassadors in Phoenix, AZ

2014 Washington Lobby DayIn Washington State, You’re the Cure advocates made a big impression at the Capitol in Olympia on Lobby Day. These advocates, including five board members from the Seattle/Tacoma area, heard issue briefings from the Department of Health and the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition and then hit the halls to take on the Legislature. Advocates urged leaders to re-fund the proven-effective state tobacco prevention program, as well as support a number of childhood obesity prevention policies including Governor Jay Inslee’s new Healthiest Next Generation Initiative, Safe Routes to School and policies to improve access to healthier food and beverage options in schools. It was a great day and an important step toward securing these wins during this legislative session. Great work!

A quick update on our Ross Campaign… they have already raised over $1 million to date! Employees are working very hard on our behalf to raise awareness and funds to fight heart disease and stroke. The company has selected 18 of their top locations to receive lifesaving Hands-Only CPR Training from our team members. This week in Spokane, Lisa Thompson and Heidi Hershly trekked through a snow storm to spend some time with local employees. Volunteers across the affiliate are also part of this effort and have reported in about their experiences! Marcy Shugert from San Diego shared that she stopped by a Ross and explained her experience from a survivor’s perspective, and thanked the staff for their commitment to teaching parents and kids the value of CPR. Keep up the great work!
Lisa Thompson makes a visit to Ross Ross employees learn CPR

Finally this week, I am happy to share another “New Year, New You” photo submission. Valerie Topacio in Spokane is stepping up her workout routine to include a great new trend called Bar Method. Valerie shared that it has really helped her to tune into her body mechanics and take time to stretch and strengthen her core. Keep it up, Valerie!
Valerie Topacio in Spokane is stepping up her workout routine to include a great new trend called Bar Method.Valerie Topacio in Spokane is stepping up her workout routine to include a great new trend called Bar Method.

Downtown LA Run Club - November, 2013



Our LA division has created a Tuesday night running club! The division office is the starting point and Megan Millar has been leading the effort. An avid runner, and recent downtown transplant, Megan scouts out different routes to test out each week. One week they might run east toward a bridge with a great view of the city looping their way back to the office through downtown’s “gallery row,” while another week they might head north and check out a park full of kids at soccer practice. Everyone in the office is invited to join, but the usual suspects include Megan Millar, Gina Esparza, Kristin Webb, Lily Fu, Megan French, Jacque Marianno, Rinna de Guzman and Jessica Milla. Depending on time and route they complete a 3-4 mile run, but last week a few reached a goal of almost six miles in a one hour time limit!

Have a great weekend!

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.

24 JanEngage and Get Active!

With Heart Month just around the corner, our Communications and Marketing team members are buzzing with ideas to help share our messages – and to every community! In Silicon Valley, reporter Blanca Garza starred in a public service announcement that will air on local NBC Telemundao48 promoting Go Red For Women. She has also agreed to emcee the Go Red fashion show on Feb 5. Congrats to the Silicon Valley team for continuing to build strong community relationships.In Silicon Valley, reporter Blanca Garza starred in a public service announcement that will air on local NBC Telemundao48 promoting Go Red For Women. She has also agreed to emcee the Go Red fashion show on Feb 5. Congrats to the Silicon Valley team for continuing to build strong community relationships.

Last weekend, in one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve seen in recent memory, the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Seattle Seahawks – a heartbreaking loss for one of our WSA divisions and a celebration for another! Here’s a story that might cheer up some of our Greater Bay Area supporters — The Greater Bay Area division’s PULSE Committee is hosting a flag football tournament on Sat., Feb. 1. It will be among the last events held in historic Candlestick Park before they tear it down. There are 20 teams of 10 players who get to play on the legendary field, take a peek at the professional players’ locker rooms and run through the tunnel with the roar of the crowd! The day will consist of a tailgating party, a flag football bracket tournament, food from local eateries and a DJ. The PULSE Committee is a group of young professionals who have coordinated a PULSE Ball and now a PULSE Bowl! They promote active lifestyles and heart-healthy habits, while also raising critical funds. I wish I could be there – as a player and a spectator!
Promoting the Pulse Bowl on the Damon Bruce show, KNBRPulse Bowl - Flag Football Tournament & After Party - Join us in our fight against America's #1 killer and in our farewell to San Francisco's historic Candlestick Park. Memories have been made here. Get active, it's game time!

NFL Play 60 app - you move and your character moves - helping kids get active!And speaking of football… I am excited to share that the American Heart Association and the NFL have come together to create a NFL PLAY 60 app, encouraging kids to get active and healthy through an endless runner game. The app encourages players to get their 60 minutes of daily recommended physical activity through a simulated endless runner experience. It became available for download in the iTunes store on Jan. 23. Don’t despair Android users (I am one, too), a version will be available for you sometime next month! Check out this fun new resource and share it with the little ones in your life.

As promised last week, I would like to share an update on our Ross Campaign. The North Bay office already has half of their thank you visits and phone calls completed and are thrilled to show their appreciation to the Ross family encountering especially warm receptions from Ross store managers. In San Diego, Ross’ enthusiastic participation and support of the Heart Walk in September 2013 was a wonderful kick-start to a year-round relationship. The San Diego division is engaging their board leadership in this year’s campaign visits since raising CPR awareness is one of its Community Plan goals! Our incoming Executive Vice President did not want to miss out on Ross Fever in the WSA either – Kathy Rogers has scheduled regular phone calls with her counterparts at Ross to share her deep appreciation for their amazing work for our mission.
Ross in Fairfield, CA is already in full swing with Heart MonthRoss in Vacaville, CA is going the extra mile to make Heart Month memories

Finally this week I received two new submissions for my “New Year, New You” picture contest. San Diego staffer Tiffany Brown issued a 30-day hydration challenge to the local office. The goal is to drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day. Each person received a personal tracking sheet to mark every 8 ounces they consume, and a chart has been set up in the kitchen to monitor progress throughout the challenge. Once a staffer hits their 64 ounces for the day, they can write their name on the board.  The entire staff is participating and still going strong at the halfway point! Way to go, San Diego!
San Diego water challengeSan Diego staff participating in the 30 day water challenge

And Jenni Dingeldein from the Portland division shared that each year, one of their Go Red For Women volunteers hosts a birthday celebration on Mt. Hood to honor her mother (who died of heart disease). She has been holding this snowshoe event for eight years, and takes time to host a breakfast beforehand that focuses on educating women about their risks for heart disease and stroke. This was Jenni’s second year participating, and she shared that this event is always a great reminder that she needs to continue to focus on her own heart health. Her 2014 goal is to learn how to better manage stress and incorporate more nutritious foods, while continuing to live a physically active lifestyle.Jenni Dingeldein joins a Go Red For Women snowshoe event hosted by a volunteer in memory of her mother - what a great way to get active!

Have a great weekend!

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.

17 JanPeople Make Our Cause

The incredible people I get to work and interact with really are the best part about my job. I had three beautiful stories come across my desk (or should I say inbox) this week – two about volunteers and the other a beloved staff member. They both were so great I had to share!

First, a beautiful story on young volunteer and staunch advocate, Gracie Doran. Gracie suffered a stroke at the age of 9 while vacationing with her family at the beach. She has since become a dedicated volunteer and spokesperson. In May, she will be the passion speaker at the Orange County Heart & Stroke Ball. Please take a moment and watch the short documentary about her story and recent comeback to the dance floor. I guarantee you will love it and want to pass it on. Thank you, Gracie, for your hard work and determination – you are an inspiration to us all!Gracie Doran suffered a stroke at the age of 9, but that has not stopped her from sharing her love of dance. Watch this inspiring video of an amazing young woman.

It is that very special time of year again when our friends at Ross dedicate their time, passion and energy to fighting heart disease and stroke through their Point of Purchase (Heart Sales) Campaign.  This year the campaign will run from Jan. 19 to Feb. 14. Since 2003, Ross has raised over $20 million for the AHA! And 2013 was another banner year for the company. Not only was their Heart Sales Campaign a tremendous success, for the first time, Ross employees participated in Heart Walks across the nation raising over $150,000 in the Western States Affiliate alone! This year the  Ross campaign will have a special focus on youth.  Ross will be “creating heroes” by training students in CPR in over 1,000 schools across the country. I look forward to sharing the success of the campaign in stories and photographs from across the WSA. If you stop by a Ross store when you are out and about shopping, please be sure to thank employees for their support and share some snapshots of the creative ways you’re applauding their efforts!

Chef Kelly Meyer wins Communtiy Engagement award at the Building the Dream LuncheonIn Los Angeles, two special American Heart Association volunteers were presented with awards at the Martin Luther King Community Health Foundation’s “Building The Dream Luncheon.” The event honored award recipients for being visionary community health leaders. Kelly Meyer received the Community Engagement Award for her commitment to community health through Teaching Gardens in partnership with the American Heart Association and The California Endowment. Dr. Michelle Bholat, Vice Chair of Family Medicine at UCLA and a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Directors received the Yancey Award in memory of Dr. Antronette Yancey. Congratulations to you both on this outstanding achievement!

I also received a few more “New Year, New You” photo submissions. Kelli Petragallo shared that her family has committed to unplugging (no TV, DS, Wii, phones or other electronics) for a time every night and instead, either reading or studying together. She also said that her kids get one hour of TV or electronic time per day – and anything over that must be earned through additional physical activity. It looks like they’ve mastered the “wall sit.” I love this idea, Kelli!
In the Petragallo household physical activity, like wall sits, earn you more play timeKelli Petragallo's kids are all smiles when working on homework together






Dana Moore, Tara Gurlides, Lyndsay McDonald and Eileen Hawley in Orange County, CA, are starting out the New Year trying out a new health trend – juicing! They share that they had a great first week and are going to keep it up – with additional office staff joining next week. Way to go, ladies!
Our Orange County team is juicing their way into the New YearOrange County team getting healthy




Jacque Marianno in Los Angeles set a lofty goal – to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with her girlfriends. She is preparing for this by going on local hikes, piloxing, joining the LA office Tuesday night run club, rock climbing, yoga and snowboarding. Good luck, Jacque, the Photoshop picture made me smile. I know you can achieve this goal!Jacque Marianno photoshopped into a future travel destination - Machu PicchuThe Marianno family snowboarding in Mammoth, CA





Football Pick Em TrophyWell, our 2013 NFL “Pick em” game has come to an end. Thanks to everyone for another great season. Erica Ralston (Sacramento) was our big winner. Erica finished the season with 163 points. Well done, Erica. The 2013 trophy will be coming to your office soon! Kuniko Okuda (Los Angeles) finished second with 161 points. Carrie Vines (Sacramento) finished in third place with 160 points. While the official contest has come to a close, Yahoo allows you to pick the winners of the playoff games. For those of you who want to continue playing, you can still do so. There will be some great games this weekend. Thanks again to all of you for playing. Our next contest will take place in March during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Look for an e-mail in early March with instructions on how to join our annual “March Madness” game.

It really is the incredible people who work and engage with us that make this mission move. Thanks for everything you do to help us in this fight!

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.

10 JanEnergy is Ramping Up!

I’ve heard some people tend to feel a little “let down” after the holidays.  That sure doesn’t seem to be the case in the Western States Affiliate! It is almost as though you can feel the energy and buzz in the air. People are busy – great things are happening… Heart Month must be near!
Melissa Wilimas in Orange County, CA, said she was bound and determined to introduce her family to snowboarding this year
I’ll start the week’s highlights with our first “New Year, New You” photo contest submission. Melissa Wilimas in Orange County, CA, said she was bound and determined to introduce her family to snowboarding this year. Less than two weeks into the New Year and she was happy to share, “we did it – and they’re hooked!” Way to go Melissa – making health and wellness an activity for the whole family!

And now for some great Go Red For Women news… It was fun to hear that Los Angeles volunteers and staff have shifted gears to deliver lifesaving messages to students at a local university. Thirty bicycles bearing Go Red For Women’s call to speak up about heart disease in women are roaming the University of Southern California (USC) campus now through the end of February as part of the FreeBike Project. Founded by a former USC exchange student, the FreeBike Project leases bikes to students free of charge in exchange for promoting the bike and the featured brand or charity around campus and in social media. At the end of the semester, some of the bikes are donated to people living in remote villages overseas. This wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of heart disease among college students was made possible by longtime AHA volunteer and affiliate board member Hank Wasiak who connected us with FreeBike Project and shouldered some of the production cost, and Los Angeles board member Lou Reisman who pitched in and donated additional funds. Thank you, Hank and Lou! FreeBike Project on USC's campusFreeBike Project on USC's campus

In Boise, over 50 American Heart Association volunteers hit the Idaho Capitol Building for Youth Lobby Day. Top on their list – the importance of physical education requirements and CPR for high school graduation. They also became “lobbying ninjas,” learning how to talk to legislators, tactics to lobby and how to get a meeting when you don’t have one scheduled. The talented group of students met with over 40 of the 105 legislators! Meetings included both the Senate and House Education Committee Chairs, members of the Education Committee Chairs and even some members of Chamber leadership. They also hosted a legislator breakfast. Jami Fitzpatrick and her 5th grade son Cody (who was saved by bystander CPR when he was 5-years old) taught attendees and legislators how to do Hands-Only CPR. Fantastic work!Idaho Youth Lobby Day 2014

And finally this week, the American Heart Association along with many other health advocacy groups, celebrated the 50th anniversary of an important milestone in American wellness  – release of the first Surgeon General’s report linking tobacco to serious health issues. That was at a time when nearly 50 percent of the population smoked and there were very few limitations on where you could light up.  Smoking was prevalent in restaurants  airlines – even people appearing on TV! We have come a very long way, but still have work to do. This week at a press conference the American Heart Association joined other groups in  calling for a new national commitment to end the tobacco epidemic for good. Also participating were the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Legacy. Action recommended by all levels of government were announced. These include reducing smoking rates –  currently at about 18 percent — to less than 10 percent within 10 years; protecting all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and ultimately eliminating  death and disease caused by tobacco use. Impressive goals which I am sure we will continue to advance with passion.AHA Vintage Tobacco Control PSAs

I encourage you to use the energy and enthusiasm that this busy time of year brings to create new and motivating experiences. I look forward to receiving more “New Year, New You” photo submissions and sharing in the momentous changes. Keep up the great work!

Please continue to submit highlights to Kelli Petragallo.