Anchorage, Alaska, Sept. 12, 2023— three local students have been selected by the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, to serve as a volunteer local Youth Heart Ambassador for the 2023-2024 school year. Ambassadors will work closely with the American Heart Association’s in-school programs, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ to actively and passionately champion other children to establish healthy habits to better mental and physical well-being.
The American Heart Association accepted nominations from young people who have been affected by heart disease or stroke either through a personal diagnosis, diagnosis of a loved one, or has made a personal lifestyle change, to serve in the Youth Heart Ambassador role.
Carter Lestina, Eagle River – at 12-years old, Lestina was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes a thickening of the lower main pumping chamber of the heart. Three months after learning of the condition, Lestina underwent open heart surgery which included instillation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to ensure a regular heart rhythm. Slowly Lestina recovered and was able to resume his active lifestyle playing soccer and downhill skiing, which was restorative for Lestina. Lestina is entering his senior year at Chugiak High School. He shares his story to support other patients and encourage everyone to get outside, move and live heart healthy.
Noah Linneman, Anchorage – born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) called dextro-transposition of the great arteries, a serious condition needing immediate intervention. Linneman underwent open heart surgery at just three days old. The surgery was successful and today Linneman is eight years old and enjoys riding bikes, playing at the park and taking care of his two dogs, two cats, two frogs and lots of fish. Linneman attends Anchor Lutheran School and is in the third grade. He is excited for the opportunity to share his story and support the American Heart Association to help other kids have happy and healthy hearts.
Kennedy Miller-Robinson, Wasilla – born with a rare congenital heart defect (CHD) called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), Miller-Robinson’s left side of her heart was underdeveloped. As a result, she has undergone five open heart surgeries, the fifth a heart transplant. Over her 12 short years, she has endured countless tests, other surgeries, three cardiac arrests, several strokes and yet she perseveres. This school year, Miller-Robinson is in the sixth grade in the MatSu Borough School District and she wants to share her journey to encourage others to stay positive and let them know they can do it.
Bailey Scott, Anchorage – born with pulmonary valve stenosis, Scott’s mother noticed she appeared “blue” at birth and asked her medical team to check out the newborn. Testing found the heart condition and at just 20-hours old, Scott underwent a heart procedure to restore blood flow. The intervention was successful, and Scott is now a senior at South Anchorage High School. She is serving as a Youth Heart Ambassador to help other kids who may go through a similar experience.
The Youth Heart Ambassadors serve a one-year commitment as a volunteer of the American Heart Association assisting the organization to be a relentless force for healthier lives for all. The position gives youth a voice to encourage, advocate and underscore the need for to raise critical funding as they share the impact cardiovascular disease has had on their life.
Rooted in physical activity, Kids Heart Challenge™ and American Heart Challenge™ are service-learning programs that teach students how to improve their overall health while doing good for the health of others. Through interactive curriculums and various online challenges, participating students get active and have fun while raising funds and awareness for congenital heart defects, nutrition security, CPR training, mental well-being and more. These collective efforts help further the American Heart Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
Schools interested in participating in either Kids Heart Challenge™ or American Heart Challenge™ receive expanded curriculum resources for both classrooms and in-home learning environments can register now for next school year. To learn more about our school programs please visit www.www.heart.org/getstarted. More information can be found online, heart.org/youthambassadors.
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 in Alaska via heart.org/Alaska, on Facebook, Instagram, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries:
Valerie Koch, email@example.com
Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)