Five Volunteers Recognized for Outstanding Contributions that Save and Improve Lives

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, recently announced the recipients of this year’s Eastern States Volunteer Awards. Five outstanding Greater Washington Region volunteer leaders were honored because of their commitment to the cause and extraordinary collaborative achievement to advance the organization’s mission to improve health and well-being for all.

Bryan O. Buckley, Health Equity Leadership Award

The Health Equity Leadership Award is presented to volunteers whose efforts have reinforced the Association’s commitment to achieving maximum impact in equitable health while addressing social influencers of health to achieve better outcomes

Bryan Buckley not only serves on the Association’s Greater Washington Region board of directors, but he is also a lifesaver as well. In 2021 while on a bike ride in Maryland, Buckley and his friend watched as a man collapsed on the trail. Without hesitation, they sprung to action, called 911, checked the man’s pulse and started CPR. Their quick action saved that man’s life.

Following this extraordinary experience, Buckley vowed to ensure that everyone in Greater Washington is trained in CPR, particularly in communities of color where survival rates, EMS response rates, and CPR training are lower. He has made frequent media appearances and is often out in the community talking about the issue of health equity and CPR awareness. Buckley has been a keynote speaker at many events, including the Heart Walk, and served as the lead spokesperson for Association’s Tele-CPR legislative campaign in Washington, DC, sharing his story with lawmakers and testifying at hearings. His work helped to pass the policy by the DC Council and secured $100,000 in funding for the program. Buckleys CPR story was the 2022 Open Your Heart Feature and can be viewed here.

 Kristen Graves, Distinguished Achievement Award

The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes a volunteer’s regional impact on the organization and those who have demonstrated outstanding collaboration and commitment to advance the Association’s work.

This past June for 10 days, over 1,000 Walgreens locations across West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, DC provided shoppers the opportunity to donate to support to the American Heart Association. Graves, a Registered District Manager of Pharmacy & Retail Operations at Walgreens, was a key supporter and internal advocate for the campaign. Her efforts were instrumental in raising more than $163K in revenue for the Association. Graves’s daughter, Brooklyn is the driver for her dedication and was the mission focus for the campaign. Graves bravely shared the story of her daughter who passed away from Tetralogy of Fallot in 2012. She also worked with the Association on a campaign video that has been shared throughout stores, at many events, meetings and in the media. Brooklyn’s story can be watched here.

John Harrity, Distinguished Achievement Award

The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes a volunteer’s regional impact on the organization and those who have demonstrated outstanding collaboration and commitment to advance the Association’s work.

Harrity began his involvement with the American Heart Association in 2016 when his company, Harrity & Harrity, LLP began to sponsor the Lawyers Have Heart 10K, 5K & Fun Walk. In 2018 he became part of the Lawyers Have Heart Executive Leadership Team. He co-chaired the event in 2020 during the start of the pandemic and is currently serving as the co-chair for his fourth year. As co-chair in 2022, John Harrity helped Lawyers Have Heart raised a record-breaking $1.26 million for the American Heart Association. Having recently joined the organization’s Greater Washington Region Board of Directors, Harrity is driven by his own story of being saved by CPR and surviving a “widow-maker” heart attack. He has shared his personal journey at numerous events and meetings as well as through local and national media.  Read more about his story on the DC Bar’s website.

Erich Sanchack – Leadership Legacy Award

This award recognizes incredible contributions in support of the Association’s mission and is annually presented to current and alumni volunteers for exceptional service to the organization over a significant time.

Beginning as a Heart Walk team captain with Lockheed Martin over 10 years ago, Sanchack became involved with the American Heart Association because he simply believed in the mission and wanted to be a part of his company’s involvement. Little did he know that in 2015, he and his wife Rebecca would learn of their daughter Daniella’s undetected congenital heart defect. Thanks to her cardiologist, the medical research that made her open-heart surgery successful, and the education and research that the Association helps fund, Daniella’s future is bright.

Sanchack continues to actively support the organization in a myriad of ways, including serving on the Greater Washington Region Board of Directors from 2016 – 2021, chairing the 2017 Greater Washington Region Heart Walk which raised a record $2.46M, participating as a corporate sponsor through his current company, Digital Realty, as a family in the Greater Washington Region Heart Walk and through personal giving at other events including the Heart Ball and Heart’s Delight Wine Tasting & Auction. Sanchack inspires those around him to support the organization’s mission by sharing his story in the media and as a speaker at events. Since moving to Austin, Texas he continues to be involved in the Greater Washington Region as well as the Austin market. Sanchack was recently featured in Austin Fit Magazine.

Vince Sheehy and Sheehy Auto Stores – Corporate Leadership Award

This award recognizes companies that demonstrate outstanding support of the organization’s mission over a period of five years or more through funding, workforce engagement, and community education.

Vince Sheehy and Sheehy Auto Stores have supported the mission of the American Heart Association since 2013 through corporate sponsorship and an annual fundraising campaign, the Sheehy has Heart Sales Event and has resulted in over $2 million of generous support. Employees at Sheehy’s dealerships also rally around the cause. In 2020, Sheehy became the Greater Washington Region’s first-ever Live Fierce sponsor across all market events and campaigns. In 2021 they renewed at the Live Fierce sponsorship level once again.

As a volunteer leader, Sheehy has made himself available for various media opportunities, and speaking engagements and has made many introductions broadening the Association’s reach across the Greater Washington community. Sheehy shared his connection to heart disease and stroke during the “Edsel B. Ford Salute to Dealers” event, a global celebration honoring auto dealers for their exceptional commitment to improving the lives of others where he elevated the mission of the American Heart Association’s work emphasizing the importance of healthy living, learning CPR, and funding ongoing research. The Sheehy workforce actively lives the mission of the Association through dealership movement challenges like National Walking Day, by attending educational webinars on health and well-being and through participation in events like Lawyers Have Heart and the Heart Walk. The commitment of Sheehy Auto Stores was recently featured on PR Newswire.

“Our volunteers are truly a driving force for a world of longer, healthier lives,” said Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the American Heart Association. “It is so inspiring to work alongside these five extraordinary individuals from the Greater Washington Region and am thankful for their tireless commitment to their colleagues and community.”

To learn more about the American Heart Association, Greater Washington Region’s work to save and improve lives., visit