American Heart Association

The WSA Exchange

For healthy hearts and minds

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.

A 9-year-old’s moving video tribute

At just 9-years-old, Mikala Hicks is impacting hearts.

Mikala HicksMikala created a touching video about her Pau Pau – recently diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation – to raise funds for the American Heart Association. She wrote the script and played the piano as a soundtrack for the three-minute video, produced with her mom’s help. Mikala is participating in Jump Rope For Heart with her fourth grade class in Boise, ID and created a fundraising page with a goal of $1,000.

She jumps rope in honor of her Pau Pau, and to help everyone with heart problems live longer and healthier lives. Mikala, we are moved by the way you talk about the love you and your grandmother share – and honored by your support!


San Diego Heart Ball makes a splash

San Diego Heart Ball 2Sharing personal stories is one of the best ways to really communicate the impact our mission can have on individual lives. That is exactly what happened last weekend at the San Diego Heart Ball.

Volunteer Marjorie Nelson shared how she saved her infant son’s life using CPR. Because of her heroic action, Heart Ignite Award recipient John Lamberti, M.D., had the opportunity to save the baby’s life again during heart surgery. San Diego Heart Ball 2015Marjorie’s story inspired attendees to help reach our Open Your Heart goal of $250,000! One amazing donor provided a donation match for anyone who gave at the $1,000 level, up to $25,000.

In addition to Dr. Lamberti’s recognition as the Heart Ignite Award recipient, Jerry Sanders was recognized as the 2015 American Heart Association Donald P. Shiley Innovation Award recipient.

Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers and donors who attended this event and others, researchers at San Diego-based institutions received almost $10 million in funding from the American Heart Association last year. Impressive work – thanks to all who continue to support our work in this community and across the WSA!

San Diego Heart Ball 2015 3

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signs SB 196 creating statewide stroke system of care.

Nevada SB 196

The state of Nevada paved the way for saving hundreds of lives each year when Governor Brian Sandoval officially signed Senate Bill 196 into law on May 13 – creating a statewide stroke system of care. Standing right next to him at the ceremony was our exceptional volunteer Kathy McCormick, a stroke survivor who testified in support of SB 196 as our grassroots advocates and Advocacy team worked the bill through the legislative process. Rick Casazza, board chair of our Northern Nevada division, also played a prominent role in these efforts.

Thanks to Kathy and Rick and all the volunteers who helped pass this new law increasing collaboration between the state, hospital staff, emergency medical service providers and public health organizations. SB 196 adds to existing policy we have worked on in Nevada that has led to the establishment of strong, trusting relationships that will allow us to move future stroke and STEMI policy forward. What great teamwork!

American Heart Association Lobby Day – Stepping up to the plate

Lobby Day Selfie Kathy Rogers and AHA Western States volunteers and staffEarlier this week I had the chance to travel to Washington, DC, with just over 30 volunteers and staff for our Federal Lobby Day. Our WSA delegation joined close to 400 volunteers from around the country to urge Members of Congress to “step up to the plate” for Heart Health. Together, we were able to tell Congress why investing in lifesaving heart disease and stroke research is important. We were also able to talk about the importance of funding for school nutrition.

AHA 2015 Lobby Day Group ShotThe theme of the event was “Step Up to the Plate” and our advocates talked to lawmakers about being heart healthy and stroke free by protecting progress made by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and supporting strong school nutrition standards. They also urged making heart and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.