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Survivor & Professional Speaker on Heart Health Advocacy

Archive for 'Speaking/Advocacy Event'

It was very exciting to be featured in a CPR and Kids segment on CNN during Heart Month!  This interview let me share the importance of CPR, my personal experience with a heart condition, and what is important in becoming certified.

(Check my piece out at approximately 2:00)


Another tremendous conference with Parent Heart Watch!

I was very lucky to be able to speak and receive the 2011 Adult Advocacy Champion Award at the conference’s opening dinner, while also hosting a Survivors’  Track throughout the weekend.  It was wonderful to meet other young survivors throughout the country and reunite with so many good friends (all while enjoying the beautiful weather and atmosphere of San Diego!)!



I was so excited to emcee the ROCK the Fight Against CHD Event held at the Venus DeMilo in Swansea, Massachusetts!  It was a fantastic fundraiser with an unbelievable entertainment line-up to raise money for research and support of families with Congenital Heart Defects.  We had a rockin’ night that promises to grow over the years and make a huge difference for so many families!!



It’s exciting to have been selected to be part of a national program in which American Heart Association volunteers from all over the country will be participating in webinars and sharing resources with regards to heart disease in our country.  The top volunteers will be gaining effective insight into making our voices heard, while sharing our stories and experiences.  It’s an honor to not only be a part, but to have been asked to speak during tonight’s class.  I’m so excited about this new effort!


I had the pleasure of being invited and speaking at the Brookline, MA Rotary Club Meeting.  It was great to reunite with so many members I had previously met this summer, and I was so happy to be able to share my story about heart disease and the work of Heartbeat International.  Thank you for having me!

Newletter March 2, 2010


Another amazing and inspiring Parent Heart Watch Conference!


The weekend took place in Arlington, TX this year, home of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.  It was a packed few days full of tremendous information regarding children’s heart screenings, CPR/AED training, current research, and so much more.


It was a true gift to not only lead my annual Art Therapy session for these parents who have lost children to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, but to this year be able to lead a group discussion for survivors and siblings of those who have passed away.  We had great discussions, learned so much about our cardiac devices, and delved into some expressive art pieces.


Thank you all for another amazing conference!


For more information on Parent Heart Watch, please visit: www.parentheartwatch.org.




I was pleased to speak in Boston at the Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium.  The weekend featured outstanding workshops and presentations in various subject areas related to athletic training, and it was outstanding that the EATA finished their conference on Monday with a morning dedicated to Sudden Cardiac Arrest in athletes.  I was honored to speak following Dr. David Berkson of Drexel University College of Medicine as he explained various aspects of the conditions causing SCA in the young.  I was able to provide the audience with my first-hand experience of living with one of these conditions.

It was a great convention, and I’m so happy that many athletic trainers were able to gain a further perspective regarding SCA in athletes.


It was wonderful to meet the Rotary Club of Wellesley, MA during their weekly Monday night meeting.  I met some wonderful personalities and had a lot of laughs!  It was a pleasure to speak to the Club about my story with heart disease and introduce them to the work of Heartbeat International.  Thank you so much for having me as your guest!



It was wonderful to get the official approval from the Fall River School Committee to form a subcommittee devoted to making sure all of our city’s schools are protected with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).  I have taken the role as chairperson of our committee, additional members (including my fiance and partner in heart health advocacy, Josh) have been approved, and we will begin an extensive process to obtain these needed devices.  Anyone interested in being part of this work, please let me know!


I was delighted to meet another amazing Rotary Group and share my personal story, as well as information about the other non-profit organizations with whom I work.  The Sharon Rotary Club was extremely welcome and generous, and I thank them for having me at their meeting!



I had the pleasure of addressing the Woonsocket Rotary Club as their guest speaker at their weekly meeting.  I was able to discuss my battle with having a heart condition and the amazing organizations that Rotary is able to support, especially Heartbeat International who was supported by Rotary International since its inception, as well as continuing to serve as an integral part in the organization’s mission to save lives.  It was great to meet the Woonsocket Rotarians, and thank you for having me!


I enjoyed some oustanding Southern hospitality and amazing people at the WIRED TOGETHER camp this weekend at Children’s Harbor in Alexander City, Alabama.  The camp is an annual weekend of support, connection, and fun for young ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) patients and their families.  This year’s 1970′s-inspired theme made us all feel groovy!

I had a blast speaking to the campers and their families about my personal experience.  I met some special survivors who touched my heart and left me with lasting memories.  Thank you to WIRED TOGETHER and all of its participants and volunteers for a great event…I hope to visit again one day!!!

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I had the privilege of singing the national anthem and “God Save the Queen” in honor of Rotary International’s president, John Kenny, of Scotland.  It was a wonderful evening in Boxborough, MA, getting to meet the president and Rotarians from all over New England as we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Boston, the world’s 7th Rotary Club.  I had the honor to speak about my story regarding heart disease and how Rotary has played such a wonderful role in helping me spread the word and in supporting my cause.  I hope in the near future to join Rotary because of its beautiful meaning of service for others.

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Another outstanding Family Fun Night for Hearts at Play!

The event was held at Mass Premier Courts in Foxboro, MA, and featured a whirlwind of fun and exciting family activities that raised money for a great cause!  Hearts at Play is a culmination of the Lea family, the Grace Alice Campbell Foundation, and the outstanding work of many families and volunteers who are committed to fundraising to help children with congenital heart defects.  I had the honor of singing the national anthem, speaking on the importance of AEDs, and helping to present AEDs to the Mansfield Youth Soccer and Baseball Leagues….not to mention do some facepainting!

To learn more about Hearts at Play, click in!

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I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Brianna Badger Foundation’s annual Starry Night Gala.  It was a beautiful evening in memory of a sweet 3-year-old girl who unexpectedly passed away from LongQT Syndrome, my heart condition.  The Badgers have made it their mission to save lives and help raise money primarily for the SADS Foundation. 

Please click in for more information on the two organizations:

The Brianna Badger Foundation

The SADS Foundation

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Another fun-filled night of hockey and heart health awareness!

I was able to attend the Boston Bruins’ Go Red for Women Night for the third year in a row, and this year was extremely special.  Not only was I able to return to the ice for a celebrity shoot-out (I sadly missed the net!), but I was presented with a community leadership award from the Bruins.  The real magic happened behind the scenes though…while waiting to take the ice, I happened to notice one of the Boston Celtics basketball nets conveniently located near the ground.  Being the huge Celtics fan that I am, I took this opportunity to pose while “dunking” on the rim.  Definitely a highlight of the night! 

My continued thanks to the American Heart Association for including me in such outstanding advocacy events!  A special thanks to Jeff Foley for the sweet photos, as always! 

Check out the article from the Boston Bruins website:  click in

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I had the privilege to attend my third national Parent Heart Watch conference during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.  This year the event was held in Orlando, FL.  I reunited with old friends, met new amazing people, and provided an art therapy workshop for participants.  Parent Heart Watch was founded by parents who have lost children to heart conditions and Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and their national work is tremendous as they aim to save lives.  It is an honor to serve as a national spokesperson for this organization.  Read more at www.parentheartwatch.org.

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MAHPERD Conference

I had the pleasure of attending the Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (MAHPERD) Annual Conference as an exhibitor and speaker.  This organization does amazing work giving the overall wellness of youth the attention it warrants.  There was an amazing line-up of workshops and presenters who spoke on various issues related to all age levels and needs.  Another fantastic conference, MAHPERD!


A.T.O.M. held a fantastic conference that educated the trainers on Sudden Cardiac Arrest, its prevalence in young athletes, and options for moving toward control and prevention.  Some numbers estimate that as many as 14,000 young people die from an underlying heart condition ever year…that’s 39 children every day!  It was very informative, and I ended the program with the perspective of an athlete who has experienced diagnosis and treatment.



What a great GRFW luncheon!  The kick-off event promises to be the first of many.  There were great informational break out sessions in the morning with focuses in nutrition, sleep and its connection to heart disease, and financial health.  I was able to tell my story of survival to the entire group during lunch.  The meal finished with a wonderful survivor fashion show that really showcased what Go Red for Women is all about, as women of every age (even as young as 2!) strutted their stuff on the runway while their personal story played in the background.  The Lexington firefighters delivered gifts to all the luncheon attendees at the end.  Great event, Lexington…I had a wonderful time!