In 1995, Sheila Callahan was invited to the Heart Walk in Missoula, Montana, by her close friend and Heart Walk chairperson Kimberly Roth (pictured left to right). It was the first time the signature American Heart Association event took place in Missoula, prompting Sheila to ask what a Heart Walk was. “Your next pet project,” Kimberly replied.
Kimberly knew Sheila would be a perfect fit as an American Heart Association volunteer. She knew that Sheila had lost family members to heart disease and believed Sheila’s passion and expertise could help get the fledgling event off the ground.
“I enjoy working with the American Heart Association because they let volunteers do what they do best. They find out what your strengths are and what you enjoy doing. They let you bring your gifts to the table to serve the mission,” Sheila says.
Twenty-years later, Sheila is as involved as ever, lending her media expertise to advance the American Heart Association cause in Montana. During the 2017 Go Red For Women campaign, her flagship radio station, Mountain Broadcasting 102.5, aired public service announcements and interviews and Its website featured a special banner ad.
“Mountain 102.5 is popular with women, so the Go Red message and mission is a great fit for us," Sheila says.
She was also instrumental in sharing Go Red For Women beyond her domain. She leveraged her relationships with other local media outlets to promote the campaign on television and in print. She became aware of a heart disease survivor’s story that she knew would garner the attention of readers if published. “It had legs,” Sheila says.
She visited a colleague at a leading newspaper, hand-delivering the press packet. She lobbied him to publish the story atop the front page of the paper. The story did so well that a follow-up story was published as well.
Sheila not only uses her marketing prowess to on behalf of the American Heart Association, she has also engaged prominent community leaders to spearhead many campaigns that were launched over the last two decades.
She was recently recognized as Communications Volunteer of the Year by the association’s Western States Affiliate for her dedication.
“It has been an amazing ride,” Sheila says, “Going from approximately 49 participants at our first Heart Walk to over 5,000 attendees in its last year, I am proud to know that I participated in sustaining that growth.”