For those who have been here for a while, you know that I am a huge advocate of the American Heart Association. I have been involved in one way or another since 2012.

In honor of National Volunteer Week, I want to give a little more background on HOW this came to be, what volunteering can look like, and how my level of involvement has shifted and evolved over the years.

Getting Started with Volunteering

It all started with one question…

How can I help?

At 26, I knew I was not the typical face of a heart attack patient and yet that is precisely what I became after crawling through an emergency room door with a racing heart. That first (of two) heart attacks in December 2011 turned my life upside down.

It also sent me on a path that has me to call the American Heart Association and ask directly:

How can I help?

I knew people didn’t see me, a 20-something runner, and think, “Oh, she clearly has heart disease!”


And yet, she does. During my experience and in the education since I learned that women are not taken as seriously as men when we present with heart attack symptoms. Often we are dismissed as being “anxious” or “just stressed.”

I wanted to help change.

The road from the hospital bed to the finish line of my first 10k (my big goal race six months post-heart attacks) then first marathon was a HARD ROAD to traverse. There were many small steps, many tears, and a lot of struggles to gain my endurance and trust in my body back. The emotional element hit even harder than the physical one did and the latter was no joke.

I didn’t want others to go through that if there is something I could do.

So I reached out, shared my story with AHA and told them to use me any way and place they could to help the cause.

The Scope of Volunteering

After that first call to the American Heart Association in Washington DC, I got connected with the development director in charge of PULSE, the young professionals group of AHA.

This provided me an opportunity to reach my peers and educate them about the risk factors of heart disease, importance of knowing a family history and raise awareness & funds for the great cause.

That led me to five years of:

✔️ Planning mission-driven events to get people moving and active
✔️ Selling tickets to AHA’s larger fundraising events
✔️ Serving as Co-Chair (2 years) and Mission Chair for PULSE (1 year) heading up all group programming
✔️ Volunteering at the Greater Washington Heart Walk
✔️ Saying “YES!” to any request for media interviews or speaking engagements at local events to share my story

Then I picked up stakes and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Again, I reached out to the local office to ask: How can I help?

That led to:

✔️ Securing corporate sponsors and spreading awareness a member of the Go Red For Women Executive Leadership Team in Chattanooga
✔️ Adding my company, DCM Communications, as an annual sponsor contributing 7% of gross revenue to Go Red for Women since 2018
✔️ Serving as a member of the Board of Directors in Chattanooga
✔️ Hosting my own fundraising events and campaigns
✔️ Again, saying YES to any and every request for an interview or speaking engagement to spread heart disease awareness and the risks for women

In 2023 I made my way to Chicago and repeated the same format: call the local AHA office, share my story, and ask, “How can I help?”

That has since translated into:

✔️ Sponsorship by DCM Communications at the Go Red for Women Luncheon
✔️ Speaking engagements with the Go Red for Women committee to share my story
✔️ A partnership with Design Collective to wear a custom designed red dress to promote the cause during Heart Month
✔️ A national feature on the American Heart Association website

And I am just beginning to make a mark on the things I WANT to do here in Chicago.

The Why Behind the Effort

Above all though, I do not do this for accolades or longer lists of “What I’ve done”. I do all of this for a single reason:

So that MY story does not become someone else’s story.

It is been an honor to volunteer and work with the American Heart Association in multiple cities over the last 12 years, all of us working for a common goal:

Spreading heart disease awareness and funding research to eradicate the number 1 threat to women’s health.

We CAN do this. Together. One step. One mile. One workout (and event) at a time.

Happy National Volunteer Week to everyone who carves out some time for the cause closest to YOUR heart ❤️


Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications, based out of Chicago. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of Labrador Retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association.

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