Advocates of the Year Honored at Heroes Luncheon

With so many outstanding advocates brought together in one place for You’re the Cure on the Hill 2011, the American Heart Association (AHA) couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recognize their dedication and achievements at the Heroes Luncheon on April 11.

The Advocate of the Year awards were presented during the luncheon by AHA Chair Debra Lockwood and CEO Nancy Brown to four advocates who demonstrated their commitment to advancing the mission of the association through advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels. This year’s honorees were:

2011 Science Advocate of the Year- Dr. Stephen Cook
Dr. Stephen Cook from Fairpoint, New York “embodies the ideals of translational research.” He was instrumental in developing the Healthi Kids initiative in Monroe County and its policy agenda to reverse childhood obesity. This coalition involved community, government and academic sectors to increase physical activity and improve nutrition for children. Dr. Cook is also the Chairman of the Childhood Obesity Committee for the New York State chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics;serves on state and national committees of AHA; and is a member of the National Advocacy Task Force of The Obesity Society.

2011 Survivor Advocate of the Year- Cindy Flynn
Cindy Flynn from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania has actively and enthusiastically participated in association events and has been an unstoppable advocate for heart and stroke issues. As a four-time stroke survivor and a passionate You’re the Cure advocate, she has established strong relationships with lawmakers to help advance heart disease and stroke legislation. She takes her role and responsibilities as a Pennsylvania State Advocacy Committee Field Representative very seriously and reaches out to advocacy staff regularly with updates about the work she is doing. She has also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the association’s Great Rivers Affiliate and was recognized for her efforts to engage federal and state officials in Go Red for Women activities and policy issues.

2011 Volunteer Advocate of the Year- Newt Williams
In addition to his passion, Newt Williams of Nashville, Tennessee has brought his extensive knowledge of the legislative process and relationships with key officials to his work as a You’re the Cure advocate. He played a key role in the passage of local menu labeling regulations and has actively advocated for accessible and affordable health care for all Americans. He has served as an association spokesperson and media advocate to help educate others on our issues.

2011 Youth Advocate of the Year- Abby Michaelsen
Abby Michaelsen of Newport Beach, California has been a role model to other young people in her community and has demonstrated amazing leadership in educating and helping others live healthier lives. After losing her father to heart disease, Abby became an advocate for the association to help prevent heart disease in her community. In 2009, she founded Newport Harbor High School’s first Heart and Health Club and since then over 50 students have regularly organized community events including a Heart Month health fair and the Great American Smokeout. She has mobilized her peers to get the message out on tobacco-free legislation and testified to policymakers to support smoke-free parks. Abby has even developed a “Start Your Own Heart Club Toolkit,” so that students at other local schools can start and run their own clubs.
The luncheon program, hosted by survivor-advocate Lisa Deck, also featured inspiring stories from caregiver-advocate Lisa Bibbey and her daughter Sarah, a 14-year old stroke survivor, as well as Kiersten Allen from the Washington Redskins, who spoke about the successful NFL Play 60 campaign.

A big thank you to the Emergency Cardiac Care Programs Department for sponsoring the event!

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