October 10, 2019 – AHA Walk

Today I went to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) walk at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland. Children’s Fairyland is the name of the park, or at least I’m sure. 

I thought of the idea of going to this walk a week ago. I sent an email to the American Heart Association Bay Area a long time ago, but I got now response. So y’know what, I’m going to meet with them in person.

My goal for going to the walk was to connect with people. I had to convince my mom that this walk was worth missing school, but I think she was in a good mood.

My mom dropped me off at the park, and it was pretty confusing. I think I was the only kid there. I wandered around and it seemed there were a lot of corporate employees.

I was too scared to go up to anyone, but my mom was kind of boss. She went up to the volunteer tent and blatantly said “Hi, Justin wants to volunteer for you” and gave me a shove. I then met someone that gave me their business card.

My mom was talking to a guy, and when I got there I saw they were talking about healthy habits. He emphasized that eating healthy is important. He’s a bodybuilder, and he showed me a picture of him when he was 17 (in his prime). 

When the rally started, the mayor came up to the podium to speak. She introduced herself as the mayor of Oakland, and she also said she was a Skyline High School alumni. I thought, “Hey, that’s where I took my SAT!” Anyways, she declared October 10 Thrive day in Oakland because of all the support Kaiser Permanente provided to the city.

After the opening speeches, I met the CEO of the American Heart Association Bay Area. I gave her my business card, but I have to say I’m shy of giving away my business card (it makes advocacy seem like a corporation). It was awesome meeting her because I accomplished my goal of the day!

I didn’t plan to participate in all of the walk because I had to return to school, but before I went my mom decided to grab some food from the food trucks. Unfortunately, since the food trucks require a ticket that you received when you registered for the walk, we couldn’t get food. My mom said yesterday, “No, it’s fine, we can register at the walk.” But there was no place to register.

This really nice lady offered us free tickets for the food truck. God, the food was amazing. It was some great eggplant, chicken, and rice concoction.

So I unfortunately had to go back to school. I came back later than expected and wound up in the middle of math. My classmate saw I posted the story on social media and asked me how was it. I said “good.”

October 14, 2019 – Meeting Kelly from AHA

Today I met Kelly from the American Heart Association. Ever since the AHA’s walk at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland (October 10, 2019), I’ve been communicating with her over email. She said she wanted to meet up and I love that idea.

We met at Peet’s Coffee. It had a beautiful interior, but we sat outside.

Kelly told me what she does, and I’m so impressed. She heads the youth programs in the Bay Area, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles area. It’s like woah, all at once?

Our conversation can be broken into three things:

  1. Me telling her about what I’ve done
  2. Me asking her about “the next big thing”
  3. Kelly asking what she wants from me

1: Me telling her about what I’ve done

I told her about everything: my blog, my cookbook, and my Tasty video. Kelly was impressed. It seems like everyone I meet knows about Tasty. They might not know the name, but the format is widespread nationwide. She said it shows up on her Facebook feed, and I should probably use Facebook. Even though I have a Facebook page, my mom is the one updating on it.

2: Me asking her about “the next big thing”

I shared with her my idea for my next big project. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you about it. It has to be a secret. 🤷‍♂️ I am so grateful for Tasty, but I don’t anticipate it being my only thing.

She said it’s not her department, but she said she’ll send it over to someone who can help. However. she’s on vacation right now. She’ll be back in a couple of weeks

3: Kelly asking what she wants from me

My next big project is an ambitious thing, and Kelly said she does more grassroots things. She told me she did something called the American Heart Challenge in high schools, and it’s to promote health in the heart, mind, and body in high school students.

She does a lot of health programs in elementary schools, and usually the American Heart Challenge takes over for them. For high schools, they’re usually student run. 

Kelly also communicated it would be awesome if I could participate in kick-off assemblies. She asked me to look at my schedule and tell her how many days I could take off school, which is definitely on my agenda.

October 31, 2019 – Online Meeting

Today I had an online meeting with Megan and Simone. In case you don’t know, Megan is my fellow heart transplant recipient at the other school high school in Pleasanton. Simone from the American Heart Association is in charge of youth programs along the East Bay.

I had already arranged for a meeting with my vice-principal on November 5. I’ll finally be meeting Simone in person for the first time! Simone will be talking to vice-principal Norrington about the American Heart Challenge while I’ll just be there.

I was a couple of minutes late and didn’t realize that my sound was muted, not Zoom wasn’t working, but other than that it was fine. Megan had a lot of great questions about the American Heart Challenge, and it was so great to learn about it. Honestly, I don’t know much about it either, so it was much of a learning experience for me as it was for Megan.

I also asked Simone some questions I had. Yesterday my doctor told me that the American Heart Association would have a national conference in Philadelphia (and it’s super big! Bigger than the Make-A-Wish national conference) and that sounds awesome. She asked me to email Kelly, so I did that.