The need for innovative research and initiatives to increase physical activity was the resounding message to Congress from more than 300 volunteer-advocates from across the country who gathered in Washington, D.C. on April 12, 2011 for the American Heart Association’s Congressional Lobby Day – You’re the Cure on the Hill. Heart and stroke survivors, researchers and youth advocates met with key lawmakers to urge them to appropriate $35 billion for the National Institutes of Health for FY 2012, co-sponsor the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act and support the Safe Routes to Schools program in the next transportation bill.
To prepare for lobbying activities, participants received an overview of the association’s public policy issues, brushed up on their media outreach skills and discovered new grassroots tactics. Heart and stroke survivors were honored for their outstanding advocacy work as well as members of Congress including Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) who received the association’s Congressional Public Service Award. During the association’s Celebration Breakfast for advocates, Celebrity Apprentice’s Star Jones, attorney and television personality, described her journey recovering from heart disease. On the media front, You’re the Cure on the Hill became a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook along with several news stories that appeared online and in television, radio and print news outlets across the country. Volunteers also amplified Lobby Day messages virtually through thousands of e-mails, faxes and phone calls to the Hill which spurred new Member support for Lobby Day issues. The event was an overall success that would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of You’re the Cure advocates, volunteers and staff.