Welcome to the The WSA Exchange, for healthy hearts and minds. Kathy Rogers, American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Executive Vice President will share stories from across the affiliate.
It was a trip of a lifetime for 9-year-old cardiac arrest survivor Sofia Montoya. The Silicon Valley volunteer and her parents were invited to attend the Red Dress Collection show in New York City on Feb. 9 to meet her idol, “Fight Song” singer Rachel Platten, who was walking the runway and singing the song during the show.
Her parents kept the meeting a secret from Sofia, who only thought she was seeing a fashion show. Whisked backstage by our national colleagues, Sofia was mesmerized by the bustle when a young woman in a red gown came around a curtain and was introduced to her as Rachel Platten. The musician immediately leaned down to give Sofia a hug, who burst into tears of happiness and awe. Sofia also received hugs from Maureen McCormick (Marcia of the Brady Bunch), Star Jones and Katie Holmes, who all listened intently to her story of collapsing on a playground.
With celebrity-style attitude, Sofia walked the Red Carpet with American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown, who asked if she would also accompany her to pose in front of the cameras. The actual show might have been anticlimactic for Sofia except that Rachel Platten stopped to mouth, “I love you” to her during her walk down the runway.
Sofia’s story was featured in several stories about the 2017 Red Dress Collection, including a piece that appeared in Billboard magazine. Sofia collapsed on a playground last spring and was resuscitated by hands-only CPR and air-lifted to Stanford Children’s Hospital. Diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, Sofia sang “Fight Song” on her way into the ER—the song she was also planning to sing for a school talent show when she had her cardiac arrest.
Policy Measure M, also known as the “Bicycle/Pedestrian” measure, has passed thanks in part to efforts of American Heart Association volunteers, advocates and staff. Measure M will levy a half-cent sales tax increase, and will generate an estimated $860 million a year to expand transportation and mobility options in LA County. It is intended to help improve the health of residents by making it easier for people to walk, ride a bike and be active.
With nearly 80% of U.S. adults and 75% of adolescents not getting the recommended amount of physical activity needed each week, Measure M can help improve the health of residents by making it easier for people to walk, ride a bike and be active. Studies show that more and better quality sidewalks are associated with higher rates of walking and more adults meeting their daily physical activity recommendations. Measure M is a smart investment that will help communities make the healthy choice the easy choice for all.
The San Diego Gulls professional hockey team took advantage of Valentine’s Day to celebrate the American Heart Association, Go Red For Women and super volunteer and survivor Kenzi Jankowski. Kenzi and her brother Tanner were featured in the pre-game “drop the puck” ceremony, and the Gulls recognized the Jankowski family between the second and third periods. They also aired a Go Red PSA during period breaks.
Our San Diego team shared that it was a great engagement opportunity and that they are already exploring ways to make next year even bigger!
Our Northern Nevada Division recently hosted the 13th annual Go Red For Women Luncheon in a beautiful downtown Reno ballroom. Approximately 640 guests attended the “Hearts are a Girl’s Best Friend” themed event. The setting was a reminder that no matter what we do to our outsides, if we don’t care for our insides, it is all for not.
You may not always associate CPR with Go Red, but volunteer Chair Ellie Lopez-Bowlan wanted everyone who attended trained in Hands-Only CPR. It was a fun and action-oriented means to get participants involved in a “hands-on” way during the luncheon! Volunteer Rick Casazza and comedian Kat Simmons were also speakers who inspired attendees to take charge of their health. This year’s luncheon has raised $330,000 and counting.