As we anticipate the start of spring next week, I want to take a few minutes to look back and congratulate all ACHA members, advocates, donors, and staff on an amazing Heart Month 2018! You did an outstanding job helping to spread CHD awareness and the importance of lifelong care throughout February by sharing our social postings at a record rate. Combined across all platforms, our postings reached an astounding 8 million people during Heart Month, and our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers increased by more than 1,000 people. Way to go!
I also want to give a shout-out to all who attended the 2018 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., February 26-27. More than 180 activists from 32 different states visited with elected officials and their legislative aides on Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the CHD community. The Conference—which was a collaboration between ACHA, The Children's Heart Foundation, and the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association—featured dynamic patient stories, expert panel discussions and inspiring appearances by both Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Gus Bilirakis. Without question, though, the highlight of the event was the passage of the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act (CHFRA) by the House of Representatives while we were in town. This legislation will ensure that critical CHD activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will continue. First authorized in 2010, these efforts have improved our understanding of CHD across the lifespan, the age-specific prevalence of CHD, and factors impacting when people with CHD do not receive appropriate specialty care. House passage of CHFRA was huge, but, of course, it is the first step... now we will turn our attention to the Senate, where we will continue to work with our Senate Champions in hopes that it, too, will act—and that CHFRA will become law this year.
Finally, Heart Month also featured one of our major fundraising appeals of the year, the Meil Family Foundation Valentine Match Challenge. I am pleased to report that this year’s appeal was our largest yet, as 300+ individuals combined to contribute more than $120,000! We sincerely appreciate the support of so many, and especially want to thank Wendy and Barry Meil for their incredible generosity and continued dedication to our mission.
Mark Roeder, President and CEO