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.
What 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!
Talk 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!
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!
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.
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)