American Heart Association American Stroke AssociationA Message from CEO Cass Wheeler, Dec. 24, 2008

Dear Friend of Heart,

This month bears very personal significance to me. Not only are we drawing to a

close a challenging year financially for both our organization as well as our

country, but it also marks the start of my retirement and the end of my tenure as

CEO of the American Heart Association. During the 11 years I have had the privilege of holding this position, I have seen this organization accomplish many important things in our fight to save lives. And truly none of it would have been possible without your generous support. I am so thankful for your dedication – and I know I can speak on behalf of the millions of heart disease survivors and their family members in expressing their thanks as well.

As I reflect upon the accomplishments you have made possible, the following are some that give me the most satisfaction.

– In 1997 we set an aggressive goal to reduce death from heart disease and stroke by 25% by 2010. And I am thrilled to share we not only have achieved but exceeded this goal! In dropping the death rate by 30%, more than 160,000 more people were alive last year!

– We identified women, children and African Americans as some of the most at risk people who needed our help and reached out to them with educational information and life tools by launching our Go Red For Women, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Power To End Stroke campaigns.

– And we’ve worked to help ensure hospitals and medical professionals diagnose and treat you accurately and according to the latest science by launching our Get With The Guidelines and Mission Lifeline health-care quality improvement programs.

Yet despite these accomplishments we still have so much to do. We continue to lose 865,000 husbands, daughters, friends and other loved ones each year to

cardiovascular diseases – that’s nearly 2 lives lost every minute. A lack of

resources resulted in promising research going unfunded – we may never know what discoveries have been sacrificed. And we are seeing a disturbing trend with our nation’s children, whose health and longevity are threatened by an unprecedented obesity epidemic.

We have a lot of work to do, but with your ongoing support I know the American Heart Association can continue to save lives and make a meaningful difference. I am thankful for my 35 years with the American Heart Association and am excited to see what great things will be accomplished moving forward. Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season and thank you again — for everything.

You are always welcome to give in support of our mission at or by simply calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. (

Heartfelt Thanks,

Cass Wheeler

CEO, American Heart Association

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