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Hero Helping Heart For Jamie Diptee-Bay, the heart is where it’s at. As the Development Director for the American Heart Association’s Greater Southeast Affiliate, she works to fight heart disease and stroke by raising the funds to support the doctors and researchers who work toward life-saving research. T E X T BY CR IS T INA ZUA ZUA J amie Diptee-Bay’s passion for American Heart Association comes from a great deal of personal experience with heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. “It runs in my family, and my grandfather passed away from a sudden heart attack,” she shares. “This can happen to anyone, anywhere, often without warning. The thought of being able to do something to help others inspired me to get involved.” Diptee-Bay’s main project is the organization of the Miami Heart & Stroke Ball, a yearly campaign which culminates in an annual black-tie gala. “Through this and other events throughout the year, we’re able to educate and inform the community of the American Heart Association’s cause and mission, and show them how their support can help make a difference in the lives of many, which usually includes themselves or someone they know,” she says. In 2014, Heart Ball events raised close to $73 million, with support from over 100,000 individuals and corporations across the country providing funding for research and programs. These resources have provided a 48 large part of the foundation for the organization’s goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% and reducing the deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20%. Her path to her current position has not been without its own sense of humor, however. When Diptee-Bay interviewed for her current position, she recalls cracking a joke about a rival university of her alma mater. “As soon as I was finished with my joke, one of the people interviewing me slowly turned her mug to show the rival university’s symbol,” she chuckles. “I was mortified! But we got a good laugh out of it.” One of the highlights of her current post is having the opportunity to meet survivors who have successfully gone on with their lives despite having a heart condition or stroke and learning about the different ways in which they dealt with their given situations. “When it comes down to it,” she says, “my role is about helping people be happier and healthier. The core of our mission is to help individuals build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”; Heart.org.