American Heart Association Announces 2020 Greater Washington Region Heart Walk Chair

The American Heart Association is pleased to announce that Tim Gillis, managing partner of the Washington Metro Area offices of U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm KPMG LLP, has been named Chair of the 2020 Greater Washington Region Heart Walk.

Tim Gillis, 2020 Heart Walk Chair and Managing Partner, KPMG LLP.

The Greater Washington Region Heart Walk is a fun and meaningful way to celebrate heart and stroke survivors, raise lifesaving funds and encourage physical activity.

“Now, more than ever, we’re all looking for ways to connect with others, stay active and stay encouraged. So when the American Heart Association reached out and asked KPMG to chair the 2020 Heart Walk, I immediately thought about our culture of wellness and our commitment to community impact,” said Gillis. “Moreover, heart health depends on physical activity, stress management, mindfulness, and nutrition—the very same tools we all rely on to keep us strong and well in any health landscape.”

The Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, November 7, 2020 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. A celebration of life, the event draws 10,000 people and promotes physical activity and heart-healthy living for the whole family. The Walk is a non-competitive, three-mile or one-mile walk and is open to both corporate and community teams as well as individuals. Event festivities include Zumba, a Kids Zone, a Top Dog Parade, activity stations, and fun for the entire family.

“Tim and KPMG have been tremendous supporters over the years. I appreciate his leadership and applaud his commitment to our mission and lifesaving work,” said Greater Washington Region American Heart Association Executive Director Soula Antoniou.

To register, visit or call 703-248-1715.

From there, participants can stay up to date by downloading the Heart Walk mobile app and encourage friends and family to join in via e-mail or on social media. Participants are encouraged to share on social media using  #DCHeartWalk.

The funds raised from the Greater Washington Region Heart Walk go towards research, advocacy, CPR training and to promote better health.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About KPMG LLP: KPMG is one of the world’s leading professional services firms, providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations.

KPMG is widely recognized for being a great place to work and build a career. Our people share a sense of purpose in the work we do, and a strong commitment to community service, inclusion and diversity, and eradicating childhood illiteracy.

KPMG LLP is the independent U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s independent member firms have 207,000 professionals working in 153 countries and territories. Learn more at

American Heart Association and Primary Care Coalition partner to provide emergency relief for hypertension patients in Montgomery County

The American Heart Association is deeply concerned about the public health crisis facing our country. Our top priority regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) is the health and well-being of all individuals and their families today and in the future, in every community, everywhere. Millions of people are counting on us for science-based information, health resources, community programs and patient support. We are continuing our mission-critical work in these challenging times and we know that people with cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), are more likely to be seriously impacted by the virus than others.

In the Greater Washington Region, we are all-in to control high blood pressure.  Low income, uninsured and poorly controlled hypertension patients often rely on in-clinic or in-pharmacy blood pressure monitors.  With social distancing and stay at home orders in effect, it is clear that alternative options are necessary.  We are proud to partner with the Primary Care Coalition to assist these patients in Montgomery County, MD, where  36% of the population has high blood pressure, above the national average.

Together, the Primary Care Coalition and the American Heart Association are getting blood pressure monitors to hypertension patients, which will allow them to measure their blood pressure from home.  We are also actively working to connect health care providers with technical assistance in using telemedicine systems and providing access to science based COVID-19 and blood pressure management information for both patients and providers.

The Primary Care Coalition administers Montgomery Cares, a public-private partnership that engages the ten independent safety-net clinics, the local health department, and the hospital systems serving Montgomery County in a coordinated effort to deliver high-quality and affordable health care to low-income and uninsured county residents. Many patients of the Montgomery Cares system live medically and socially complex lives. Maintaining ongoing connection to their primary care providers and access to treatment during this time is important for their health outcomes.

Barbara Eldridge, the Vice President of Quality and Clinical Programs at the Primary Care Coalition.

In the short term, this partnership seeks to maintain these crucial healthcare engagements whilst stay at home orders are in place.  In addition, there is real potential for long term benefits.  “We want to create a culture of self-measured blood pressure monitoring”, Barbara Eldridge, the Vice President of Quality and Clinical Programs at the Primary Care Coalition.  “When it comes to measuring blood pressure, those who are empowered to do this at home on a regular basis have a much better chance of lowering their blood pressure compared to those who rely only on periodic measurement at the doctor’s office.”

By quickly identifying areas of need and devising practical solutions to address these needs, partnerships such as this will help us to continue to support those in our most vulnerable populations during this public health crisis.

Target: BP is a national initiative formed by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) in response to the high prevalence of uncontrolled blood pressure (BP). Target: BP helps health care organizations and care teams, at no cost, improve BP control rates through an evidence-based quality improvement program and recognizes organizations committed to improving BP control.

Programs like these are the result of generous support from the community. To be a part of the Greater Washington Region’s Blood Pressure initiatives and to make an impact in your community, email To learn more about Target: BP visit:

Local organizations step it up on National Walking Day for the Virtual Step Challenge!

The American Heart Association continues to be a relentless force for a world of longer,

The DMV Links had over 167 participants who walked over 1 million steps!

healthier lives during these unprecedented times.  With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have been promoting new ways to adopt healthy lifestyles and moving more whilst abiding by social distancing and stay at home orders.


To mark National Walking Day on April 1, we challenged companies in the Greater Washington Region to take up our Virtual Step Challenge, locally presented

by Sheehy Auto Stores.  Employees from 28 companies walked throughout the day (whilst social distancing!), sending in their step count to go towards their company’s total and sharing their steps on social media using #MoveMoreDC.

We had a fantastic response from participating companies:

  • “Now more than ever, folks need to feel a sense of (virtual) community, engagement and purpose. This walk gave a sense of normalcy that is missing right now. I’ve gotten so many thank you’s from teammates around the country for coordinating this – something so simple which, at a time like this, has so much meaning and impact.” – Michelle Bailey, DMV Links Team Captain-Arlington (VA) Chapter
  • This was a really fun thing to do “together.”” – Jen Brill, One Digital
  • “Thank you so much for including us, our staff really enjoyed it. I hope there will be more during this time of social distancing.” – Shay Martello, CTSI
  • “We had a great time doing this.” – Katie Greattie, SIA

The DMV Links recorded the highest company total during the day, with their participants combining to walk over a million steps.  PS Digital and Kaiser Permanente walked the second most steps and third. Across all participants, our amazing local supporters walked for over 2.5 million steps totalling approximately 1,250 miles!

As well as a great way to mark National Walking Day, it was also a fantastic start to AHA’s Move More Month which runs throughout April.  We have lots of tips on how you can get active this month whilst keeping to the current guidelines in place – find out more here!



Roanoke Heart Ball has Record-Breaking Year!

The 2020 Roanoke Heart Ball was not only a lovely event with great attendance, great food, lots of fun and plenty of excitement, but it also became the highest-grossing Heart Ball in event history!

Thanks to a perfect storm – great attendance, incredible sponsors and so many generous donations made that night – the 2020 Roanoke Heart Ball raised $255,000. It truly was a record-breaking night!

“Our 2020 Roanoke Heart Ball, co-chaired by Dr. Robert Sandel and Cynthia Lawrence, had its best year ever,” said Elizabeth Vail, Senior Director of Development for the American Heart Association. “We are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our region to help further the mission of the American Heart Association and save lives!”

“Funds raised from this event will go to support cutting edge heart and brain research conducted here in our community as well as quality preventative education programs,” added Vail.

Sponsors for this year’s event included Carilion Clinic, Howell’s Motor Freight, Inc. and BB&T/SunTrust (now Truist).

“We are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our region to help further the mission of the American Heart Association and save lives,” said Vail.

For more information on the event, contact Lindsey Williams, Director of Development, at, or visit the website. 


The American Heart Association Partners with Central Virginia Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Control

Doctor Reviewing blood pressure
Blood Pressure Monitor on Wooden Background

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are community-based health care providers located in urban, suburban and rural communities that provide care in underserved areas.  FQHCs serve a critical role in the health care safety net by providing comprehensive primary and preventative care regardless of an individuals’ ability to pay.

The American Heart Association has partnered with Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS) to improve chronic disease control across their 15+ clinical sites through enrollment in our Target BP and Target Type II Diabetes programs.

Local Community Impact Director, Dionne Henderson, shared “establishing relationships with FQHCs and free clinics will be critical in achieving our 2030 goal of equitably increasing life expectancy by insuring that high-quality primary health care is provided to ANYONE who needs it. Together we have the opportunity to improve the overall health of more than 44,000 of our state’s most vulnerable patients.”

Target: BP is a national initiative formed by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) in response to the high prevalence of uncontrolled blood pressure (BP). Target: BP helps health care organizations and care teams, at no cost, improve BP control rates through an evidence-based quality improvement program and recognizes organizations committed to improving BP control.

Find more resources on blood pressure at:–resources 

Living with diabetes can be overwhelming because of the many lifestyle changes needed to manage the disease. These free tools can help you reach your treatment goals and better manage diabetes. More information can be found here:–resources

Lawyers Have Heart Participants are Encouraged to #KeepTheBeat

Lawyers Have Heart is the premier athletic philanthropic event led by the greater Washington DC legal community The American Heart Association, Greater Washington Region.  Now in its 30th year, the race will bring together over 6,000 runners and walkers on June on June 13th. The event Co-Chairs  are heart attack survivor John Harrity and Sandra Maxey of Harrity & Harrity, LLP. On February 1, they will launch a campaign to raise awareness and support for the American Heart Association with a unique challenge, dubbed the  “Keep the Beat Challenge” in alignment with the start of American Heart Month.

The challenge kicks off with a video featuring Harrity performing an original rap about the disease, after which he challenged several others to “keep the beat going.” The challenge is intended to encourage communities nationwide to focus on heart health, educate individuals on preventing heart disease, and generate support for the American Heart Association.

The cause is particularly meaningful to Harrity, who, despite showing no risk factors for heart disease, suffered a near fatal “widow-maker” heart attack in 2016.

“I was in the best shape of my life, and I experienced the worst type of heart attack you can have. Hours later, at the hospital, my situation got gravely worse. I experienced bleeding into my lungs, which sent me into respiratory distress, and eventually led to multiple organ failure. During that first day in the hospital, my wife was told more than a half of a dozen times that the chances of me surviving were very slim. My cardiologist said the odds of me making it through those first few weeks were a million to one,” said Harrity.

Harrity was fortunately with friends, who quickly called 9-1-1 and administered CPR before the ambulance rushed him, unconscious, to the hospital.  Harrity spent three weeks in a coma and an additional five weeks of grueling recovery in an intensive care unit in Virginia. Despite his doctor’s unfavorable odds, Harrity survived the attack and made an incredible recovery. His unlikely rehabilitation compelled him to implement a giving back initiative at his firm, with a focus on the crucial work of the American Heart Association.

“From the second I woke up and understood what had happened, I was laser focused on two things: getting back to 100% and ensuring that I don’t waste my heart attack. If I just went back to my old way of life, then this traumatic experience would have been for nothing. I have no intention of wasting my heart attack. During the following five weeks, as I lay in

intensive care regaining my ability to speak and move, my twin brother and I had many conversations. We knew we needed to do more, we needed to be purpose driven.

“When you participate in the Keep the Beat Challenge, you are supporting the American Heart Association, and serving as a beacon for others to support our lifesaving mission in a unique and powerful way! Thank you for joining us in the fight against heart disease; the number one killer of all Americans. Together, we are a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives!” said Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the American Heart Association.

To participate, upload a video to social media of yourself keeping a beat in honor of American Heart Month and challenge at least three others to do the same. Tag and follow the Keep the Beat Challenge on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and the hashtags #KeeptheBeat and #Harrity4Charity to watch challenge videos and learn more about the campaign.

To hear John’s whole story visit the Campaign Page.

Patients, consumers, and health policy experts advocate at Virginia State Capitol for access to high-quality health insurance coverage, pre-existing conditions protections for all Virginians

 Healthy Market VA, a coalition of organizations representing thousands of Virginians with chronic diseases, small business owners, and older adults spoke out on Tuesday, January 28 at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond to ensure that preserving life-saving patient protections and strengthening Virginia’s health insurance marketplace are top priorities for lawmakers this session.

State lawmakers are considering expanding access to health plans that are not thorough enough and put people in danger of not having the insurance coverage they need if they get sick. This could lead to high medical debt, the spread of poor-quality insurance options, and increased illness and death.

Patients shared stories with legislators about how they’ve managed their chronic conditions and why it’s important for Virginia to ensure that pre-existing conditions are protected. Avis Thomas of Richmond, Virginia is mother of four, a kidney transplant recipient, and has suffered life-long health issues. Her children and husband also suffer from chronic health issues. “Nobody signs up to have a pre-existing condition. With all the stressors of life, I can’t seem to shake the hardship of finding affordable and comprehensive healthcare,” she shared.

A local small business owner, Tierra Henderson also of Richmond, shared her story and discussed how current policies impact small business health coverage. “If I am unable to afford comprehensive health plans for my employees, I cannot attract a qualified workforce,” Henderson said.

Physician advocates talked about the need for access to care for Virginia’s most vulnerable populations. “As a physician, I see the importance of affordable, high-quality insurance for every person and family, including those with pre-existing conditions, small business owners, and older adults.”  says advocate Dr. Nina Solenski from Albemarle County and member of the American Heart Association’s Virginia Advocacy Committee.

Even if you couldn’t make it to the Capitol, you can still take action. Contact your legislators and tell them to support affordable high quality health care access for all.   Access to health care should put patients first. By supporting these issues, we can ensure that affordable, high quality health care is available for all Virginians.  Follow along on social media with #DefendPreEx and #HealthyMarketVA.

Healthy Market VA works to ensure access to affordable, high-quality healthcare coverage for everyone by strengthening Virginia’s health insurance marketplace. It is made up of health organizations including: American Heart Association, AARP Virginia, Arthritis Foundation, VPLC, The Commonwealth Institute, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, American Lung Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Small Business Majority, Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Hemophilia Foundation and the Hemophilia Association of the Capital Area.

 Check out the Virginia News Service story:

The American Heart Association and Health Organizations Respond to Governor Northam’s 2021 Budget Tobacco Tax Increase

“The American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Medical Society of Virginia, and appreciate the Governor including an increase in funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs, seeking funding for reinsurance, and including a tobacco tax in his proposed 2021 budget. However, the proposed cigarette tax increase of $0.30 is insignificant and far too low to protect youth from becoming addicted to tobacco and not the best mechanism to fully fund reinsurance.

“Virginia currently ranks 50th in the nation on cigarette taxes and is in desperate need of a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to stop the tobacco industry from targeting our youth. The Governor’s proposed tax increase would still fall far below the national average state tax on cigarettes, which $1.81.

“We urge the Virginia Legislature to increase the tobacco tax by at least $1.00 and levy a comparable wholesale tax on all tobacco products including electronic cigarettes and heated- products. The evidence is overwhelming that increasing the tobacco tax by at least $1.00 would prevent thousands of Virginia children from never taking up smoking, encourage thousands of adults to stop smoking, save millions in health care costs, and provide resources to allow the state to more appropriately fund tobacco cessation and prevention.

“A higher tobacco tax would allow the state to both fund reinsurance and devote more funds to cessation. An increase of $1.50 could generate over $430 million for these important programs.

“The proposed $0.066 per milliliter e-cigarette tax is too small to create any public health benefits and instead should be a percentage tax applied at wholesale. With the proposed tax, it would be roughly 4 cents increase per e-cigarette pod. The amount is nominal and does not serve as a deterrent to prevent and protect youth from tobacco.

“Virginia youth and families deserve more protections from the tobacco industry. The current youth vaping epidemic is threatening the health of Virginia children―permanent and immediate solutions to protect them from a lifetime of tobacco and nicotine addiction are needed now.

“The time is now to protect our youth from the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine addiction. We look forward to working closely with the Governor and General Assembly on a permanent and adequate solution to this public health emergency.”


Dennis Popp’s Story

I never imagined the toll heart disease would have on my life.  I had a stroke in 2000, a heart attack in 2004 and was in complete heart failure in 2013.  Medical advances have helped to keep me alive for years, but it was a heart transplant in 2017 that has given me new life.  At age 45, I never thought that I would live to see my grandchildren graduate from elementary school, but now I look forward to seeing them graduate from college.  And being able to do that with the love of my life, Patty, makes it even more special.

– Dennis Popp