Jessica Diaz had just finished exercising when she suddenly felt a shooting pain down the left side of her body. A brain scan revealed she had suffered a stroke. She was only 36.
Thankfully, Jessica has made a full recovery. Since then, she has used her experience to advocate for legislation to improve public health in Massachusetts.
This is the third in a series of stories WBZ aired in August highlighting the work of the American Heart Association in Boston. It is part of WBZ Cares, a monthly feature written and reported by Shari Small focusing on non-profit organizations in our city.
In this latest piece, Small talked to Diaz, a Charlestown resident, and Allyson Perron Drag, the American Heart Association’s senior director of government relations in Massachusetts.
Public policy is a huge part of the Heart Association’s work in Massachusetts. From health care access, to tobacco and vaping product restrictions, to healthy eating and emergency response plans, Perron Drag works to get laws passed through the state Legislature.
“We’re one of the only few non-profits that have an advocacy presence in every state, and that’s really because we have seen the value in passing policy change,” she said.
The Association has made it easy for anyone to become an advocate. By signing up at YoureTheCure.org, people can send messages to their state lawmakers asking them to support legislation endorsed by the American Heart Association.
“It only takes about three to five correspondences to a legislator, where they really start to look into that issue,” said Perron Drag. “So that constituent voice matters.”