MINGO, W.Va. — A Mingo County student has been named a national Youth Ambassador for the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge.
Hillary Gore, a junior at Mingo Central High School, will represent the association during in-school initiatives across the state while sharing her personal story of suffering a stroke at birth.
The 16 year old, originally from Logan, told MetroNews while she has no memory of the experience, she wants others to know heart attacks and strokes can happen at any age.
“The doctors told my mom that I would never walk, talk or ride a bike or wear high heels like she does,” Gore said. “I overcame all those odds and proved the doctors wrong.”
Gore said her goal is to teach other children about the importance of healthy habits to enhance their mental and physical well-being.
“I’ve learned that eating healthy is a really big part of that. Not everybody can exercise especially if you’ve suffered from a stroke. It can be hard to work with those big machines,” she said.
Youth Heart Ambassadors serve a one-year commitment as a volunteer of the American Heart Association to shed light on the impact cardiovascular disease has had on their life.
“I’ll be going to different schools and talking to the students and talking to them about the importance of heart health,” Gore explained.
Gore said the role is a natural fit for her because she’s been working to raise awareness since she was a young girl.
“Since I was in kindergarten, I’ve been helping them fundraise to help save lives like mine. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to spread the importance of heart health not only in my state, but nationally as well,” she said in a news release at the time of the announcement.
Wendy Bradley, director of AHA’s Youth Markets, said Gore’s story will inspire others to take care of their heart.
“She will be an incredible role model for so many on how to live a heart healthy life! Helping her integrate her ideas to bring even more awareness to her community and to the schools is going to be inspiring! We both are ready to help everyone make the change to living healthier lives!” Bradley said in a statement.
The main message Gore wants students to know is that they can take control of their health even if they’ve had a stroke.
“This disease doesn’t stop them from living normal lives because I do everything that anybody else could do. I’m not letting it define who I am as a person,” she said.
Gore is the first student from West Virginia to receive this honor.