TORONTO: Two days before figure skater Joannie Rochette competed at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, her mother Therese died from a heart attack. Joannie summoned up all her courage and decided to go ahead with the competition, winning a bronze medal and inspiring millions of people with her unwavering strength and grace.
"I was in shock and devastated," says Joannie. "My mother was just 55 years old, and she was the heart of our family. I dedicated my win to her, for the memories of all the years we spent together and the sacrifices she made to help me get to the Olympics."

Today, Joannie is studying to become a doctor. In spite of a demanding schedule, she didn't hesitate when asked by Heart & Stroke to become Honorary Chair for Heart & Stroke Canvass. "I know that heart disease and stroke together are the #1 killers of women globally, yet not enough of us recognize the signs and know what to do. My mom was one of them and I want to help change this," she added.

For six decades, Canadians have been giving their time to help save lives by joining Heart & Stroke Canvass. What began as a modest door-to-door campaign in Kingston, Ont., by local doctors, has grown to nearly 90,000 who join to volunteer across all provinces in Canada, with a goal to raise $10 million annually for research, health promotion and advocacy.

"We're excited and grateful that Joannie Rochette has joined us to raise the profile of Heart & Stroke Canvass," says Yves Savoie, CEO of Heart & Stroke. "Joannie has experienced what far too many people in Canada have gone through - the sudden loss of a loved one to heart disease. Her support means a great deal to us as we raise funds to help save lives."

Heart & Stroke Canvass funds research to achieve more medical breakthroughs. Volunteers also help family members, friends and neighbours by sharing life-saving health information, either in person or online. This year, Heart & Stroke will distribute information to help people recognize the signs of a heart attack, including how women may experience signs differently. The Canvass takes place during February which is Heart Month, except in the province of Quebec, where it takes place from now until June.

Join Joannie and help save lives from heart disease and stroke this year. Volunteer opportunities include canvassers, area captains and zone leaders.

(Posted on 12 October 2017, 1686337058 172O71O223O176)