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Spotlight on achievers

Robert Kinsman

Chairman, Orange County chapter,

American Heart Assn., Irvine

When Robert Kinsman was a teen-ager, his father died of heart disease.

That painful loss motivated Kinsman, who was recently elected chairman of the Orange County chapter of the American Heart Assn., to devote himself to medical research and health education.

“I’ve always wanted to do something to help out,” said Kinsman, 45, a biomedical consultant with Kinsman & Associates in Irvine. “With programs such as smoking cessation training, in the future we can actually prevent disease instead of just treating it.”

Kinsman, who has 20 years of experience as a Heart Assn. volunteer, will lead a new organization: the recently merged Newport-Mesa and Orange County divisions of the association.

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“We are looking forward to doing many more things in the future and enhancing our ability to reach the public,” Kinsman said.

Dr. David Abrahamson, a cardiologist affiliated with UC Irvine and the Orange County Heart Institute, is the new president of the association’s board of directors.

In addition to raising money for medical research, the group conducts educational programs in schools and the workplace. It also sponsors the annual Heart & Sole Classic race, with which Kinsman has been involved for several years.

“We should be able to help the next generation be healthier,” Kinsman said, “because we know things that our parents didn’t know about smoking and eating and that sort of thing.”

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Mary Thompson

Staffer, Orange Coast College’s Children’s Center, Costa Mesa

Mary Thompson is a dedicated conservationist and an avid organic gardener, and she wants to make sure that the next generation shares her concern for the future of the planet.

A staffer at Orange Coast College’s Children’s Center, Thompson, 43, helps youngsters raise their own vegetables, herbs and flowers without chemicals.

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“We spend all year working in the garden, composting and growing things,” Thompson said. “They get so excited about it, and I get excited knowing how much they really love it.”

For her dedication to education and the environment, plus her contributions to the center’s ecology curriculum, Thompson recently won the annual environmental award from the Orange County Assn. for the Education of Young Children.

Besides tending their garden, Thompson’s students make field trips to farmers markets, nature centers and to the year-round livestock exhibit at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

As a reality check, Thompson also shows her students the result of poor stewardship of resources.

“We went to a landfill, and we saw a lot of recyclable material there,” Thompson said. “It made them think about wasteful packing and where it goes.”

--COMPILED BY RUSS LOAR AND HOPE HAMASHIGE

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