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Saving lives and making laws before she was 20 yrs old

How Sarah Anne Voyles used her Voice for change...

The Background

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”

-Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart once said, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” This is the mindset in which Sarah-Anne Voyles continues to live.

Sarah-Anne lived the typical American childhood, until March 2003 when she was diagnosed with a 33mm Atrial Septal Defect, Congenital Heart Defect. Basically, she was born with three chambers instead of four in her heart.  

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Just weeks before, on February 20, 2003, two student athletes died suddenly from Sudden Cardiac Death. When her mom found out about this, she became concerned that Sarah-Anne's asthma and allergies might be more than they appeared, and they were right.  

That summer, she would undergo a catheterization procedure and emergency open-heart surgery.  This decision to test her daughter's heart proved to be a life-saving, preventative move that Sarah-Anne feels really did save her life.  After battling for her life, she began to battle for the life of other children born with CHDs.  She was surprised and frustrated to find out that not all schools had access to the types of testing that she did.

This is why she now strives to be the voice of who have lost their battles to Heart Disease and why she wanted this type of testing made available to all what does she do?

She sets out to make it a law.

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The Action

“Don’t Follow the crowd,

let the crowd follow you.”

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

She understands the words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “Don’t Follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” Sarah-Anne began to actively engage Senator Johnny Isakson and Congressman Tom Price about writing federal legislation raising the awareness for CHDs. On February 14, 2006, H.Res. 629 and S.Con.Res. 69, A Day of Hearts: Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day was passed in both the United States House and Senate. That year, she would attend her first lobby day with the American Heart and Stroke Associations and met with most of the Georgia Delegation.

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The next year she received the honor of being named Youth Advocate of the Year for both associations.  Nevertheless, her advocating, lobby and writing legislation did not stop there. In 2007 and 2008, Sarah-Anne worked with Georgia State Representative, Joe Wilkerson, to author HR 1090 promoting the awareness of CHDs. In addition, she successfully lobbied for AEDs in all school across the state of Georgia and 2D echo’s in athletic screenings.

In college, Sarah-Anne served as the Executive Director of “Heart Chase” at Hillsdale College. As the executive,she developed the policies and procedures for the inaugural Heart Chase event. It was her responsibility to assemble a team of volunteers to execute this event, meet with local business and healthcare providers to raise support for the event, and promote the event around the college and town. Also, she had to coordinate with the administration of

the college to implement this program benefiting research for cardiac patients.

Today, Sarah-Anne has not stopped advocating for a the awareness of CHDs, but also took advantage of the opportunity to work on state-wide initiatives in Georgia to strengthen the state’s workforce as a fellow through the Governor’s Intern Program. Through her fellowship, she helped promote Go Build Georgia and Operation:Workforce. These initiatives assist in closing the ever growing skills gap by educating high school students on the vast possibilities in the skilled trades industries and connecting our veterans with skilled trades employers.

Sarah-Anne understands that the best way to get a job done is to do it, but most of all she seeks to take the steps tolead by bettering those around her.

The Takeaways - 3 Tips to Leadership

"I am third" 

- Truett Cathy

1. Remain humble. If you exam the world’s greatest leaders they were just that humble. Margaret Thatcher once said, “Being powerful, is like being a lady, if you have to tell people then you aren’t.” Great leaders  know that the do not have to tell people they are great.

2. Know your game plan and stick to it. Life is not going to be a cakewalk, but with hard work and determination you can achieve your greatest dreams!

3. Put others first. A strong leader is not only diligent, hardworking and humble but is caring. One of Sarah-Anne’s favorite business leaders, Truett Cathy, built a business on the saying “I am third.” She learned from Mr. Cathy that leadership is not about promoting ones self but building others up to strengthen our communities.

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Would you like to connect with SarahAnne?