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American Heart Association


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On March 9, we hosted a special #VBGIVESBACK Day in support of the American Heart Association at our stores nationwide. All day long, 10% of the day's sales benefitted the nonprofit's Life is Why campaign—and that's on top of what we've contributed for each order since January 1. Thank you to everyone who attended and an extra thanks to all our amazing hosts! Get to know them here and discover why they're so passionate about paying it forward…

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Meet the Hosts

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Ragen Doyle, Houston: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women worldwide. And yet, because it’s often thought of as a man’s concern, too many women ignore the warning signs and risk factors. The American Heart Association is working diligently to change that by increasing women’s heart health awareness and serving as a catalyst to improve the lives of women globally.

Arianna Gold, Manhasset: This hits so close to home. My mother suffered from an unexpected stroke eight months ago and the outpouring of love and support we received helped her recover so quickly. I will do anything I can to help support this incredible cause that is helping to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Lauren Zeluck-Bell, Manhasset: Five years ago my sister almost died from postpartum pericarditis and I am forever grateful to the expert cardiologists who saved her. From that moment on I wanted to help spread awareness with my sister. Being a mom myself, I can’t imagine the pain she and so many other mothers have suffered dealing with this condition. My sister has made it her goal to make sure that all women who suffer from heart ailments have the resources and information that she did not have—I am incredibly proud of her and so thankful she is here to tell her story.

Dr. Nicole Weinberg, Pacific Palisades: I believe giving back is the fabric that makes our society great. We should all give back in some way or another to help those who can benefit. We have all been on the receiving end and we know how wonderful it feels. Giving back shows your care and consideration for those around you. (Read more from Dr. Weinberg, a cardiologist, here.)

Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele Beard, center, and friends at VB Madison

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“Giving is an integral part of my DNA. Donating my time, talent and treasure for the betterment of others gives my life true meaning!” — Michele Bailey, Georgetown

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Buffy DeBreaux-Watts, Georgetown: The phrase “giving back” doesn’t resonate well with me. I like to think of it as “PULLING FORWARD” as many people as I can with me so that we all achieve our goals. I love that the American Heart Association employs a comprehensive “PULLING FORWARD” strategy in ensuring equitable healthcare access opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, race or socio-economics.

Bettina Anderson, Palm Beach: One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” Every one of us is capable of making a difference and if we can, we should.

Stacy Simpson, Miami: The American Heart Association helped save my life. Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure; a year later I was hit by a truck riding my bike. I received a pacemaker to keep my heart pumping but was told I had a few months to live without a heart. Then a young doctor told me about a research program, partially funded by the association—a cardiac stem cell treatment to regrow damaged heart muscle. Unfortunately, because most research programs are geared towards men, I didn’t qualify in 2012 to be part of the program. But my cardiac team fought to have me added to the program and, in 2014, I was one of the first women to be entered into the study. The exception is named after me. My heart function went from 10% to 46% and I have been fighting for the American Heart Association ever since!

Hosts Michelle Riley and Buffy DeBreaux-Watts at VB Georgetown

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“Giving back is not an option, it is a requirement. Period. It is a foundational component in everything we do.” — Dawn Wheatley, Atlanta

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Jessica Diaz, Boston: Having experienced a stroke at the age of 36, giving back means doing what I can to help prevent others from having a stroke or developing heart disease. I do not want anyone to have to go through what I went through, especially unnecessarily.
While statistics surrounding the number of people suffering a stroke and heart disease can sound scary, it is important that people know 80% of strokes/heart diseases are preventable through embracing a healthy lifestyle. Often, even small changes to diet, exercise and lifestyle habits can go a long way towards improving long term health and reducing risks of experiencing heart disease or stroke.
Giving back means sharing this message and spreading awareness to empower people to take steps towards living healthier and longer.
Before my stroke I thought of the American Heart Association just as a big national company that put out public service announcements about heart disease and stroke. I now know it does so much more. Personally, it has been an incredible support network, not only by connecting me with other stroke survivors (people who understood exactly what I have been through), but also by encouraging me to share my story. Sharing my stroke story and helping to spread awareness about stroke prevention has greatly contributed to my healing from the experience of having a stroke. I am truly grateful to the American Heart Association for empowering me to turn the traumatic ordeal of having a stroke into a positive way to give back.

Host Jessica Diaz, sitting on right, and friends at VB Boston

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“Giving back is special to me because it takes intention. It gives an insight into what speaks to you, where you put your energy, and the change you want to make in the world.” — Liz Robinson, Dallas

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