Senator honored by the American Heart Association - Massachusetts Chapter
BOSTON – Last night State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) received the 2014 Heart of Our Mission Award from the American Heart/American Stroke Association during an evening ceremony at the State Room in downtown Boston.
Photo Caption: (L-R) Bernie Dennis, National American Heart Association Chairman of the Board; Senator Ben Downing; Dr. Elliott Antman, National American Heart Association President of the Board at the Heart of Our Mission celebration in Boston.
“No other award or recognition has meant as much to me as this,” said Downing. “I accept the Heart of Our Mission Award as one of many people whose lives has been profoundly impacted by heart disease. It is an honor to play a small role in trying to prevent others from dealing with losses like those my family has been dealt.”
The annual Heart of Our Mission celebration commemorates the volunteers that are critical in moving the mission of the American Heart Association forward – building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
“Senator Downing has been a passionate champion for the American Heart Association since he was elected in 2006,” said Allyson Perron, Sr. Director of Government Relations for the American Heart Association. “As co-sponsor of the Pulse Ox Bill, Senator Downing played an instrumental role in advocating for legislation that will require screening of all newborns for congenital heart defects – a move that we know will ultimately save lives.”
Congenital heart defects are the primary cause of death for children born with a birth defect, making early diagnosis crucial. Pulse Ox screening is a simple test that measures a newborns oxygen levels and aids in detecting possibly life-threating heart defects. Ensuring that all newborns receive this simple test before leaving the hospital can save lives.
Downing’s personal connection to heart disease spurred his partnership with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association on a number of advocacy initiatives during this legislative session. In addition to the Pulse Ox Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Patrick on March 6, 2014, Downing is also the lead sponsor of recently advanced legislation (S. 1918) which requires all high school athletic coaches to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as of August 1, 2015. S. 1918 has received the preliminary approval of both the Senate and House of Representatives; it requires final enactment by both Chambers before it can go to the Governor’s desk.
Other honorees last night include State Representative Dense Garlick (D- Needham), the lead House sponsor of the Pulse Ox Bill, and Association volunteer Diane Pickles.