Jamaican based in Atlanta receives Association of Black Cardiologists’ Legacy Award

Jamaican, Dr. B. Waine Kong was awarded the 2019 Spirit of the Heart Legacy Award from the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at a banquet at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

The award was in recognition of his exceptional commitment to the mission and vision of the Association of Black Cardiologists and his extraordinary contributions to reduce cardiovascular disease in minority communities.

Dr. Kong is currently the President of the Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation, and CEO Emeritus for the Association of Black Cardiologists.

Dr. Kong was born in the tiny community of Woodlands, in St. Elizabeth Parish in southwestern Jamaica.  He graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa where he attended on a track scholarship and earned his MA in Educational Psychology from American University in Washington DC. He went on to earn an Advanced Graduate Specialist (A.G.S.) certificate in Special Education from the University of Maryland and a PhD from Walden University. Later, he would attend the Dickinson School of Law and join the Georgia Bar Association.

He was an Assistant Professor of Human Development at the University of the District of Columbia, the Vice President of Provident Hospital in Baltimore, the Executive Director of the Urban Cardiology Research Center in Baltimore.

He was the CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologists for twenty-two years before his retirement in 2008. He and his wife, Dr. Stephanie Kong, opened Zoe Pediatrics in 2012 in Thomaston, GA and along with ten other pediatricians, now serve 200 children per day from six locations.

Dr. Kong has visited over 100 countries and is an avid golfer who recently shot even par (4 better than his age) and served as President of Kiwanis (Thomaston, GA) and Lieutenant Governor (GA). He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Gordon State College (Barnesville, GA) and has been a weekly columnist for three years for the Thomaston Beacon. He is also the Director of Education for Alpha Phi Alpha in Columbus, GA.

Dr. Kong is author/co-author of more than 50 publications including several books, most notably “Bad Boy From Jamaica”. He made hundreds of speeches nationally and abroad; and is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades.

Under Dr. Kong’s leadership, ABC introduced its signature 7 Steps to a Healthy Heart. This campaign centered on research-supported steps individuals can take to reduce the development of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.  For nearly two decades, this highly requested resource remains available in English, Spanish, print and digital formats.

ABC’s most recognized campaign, “Children Should Know Their Grandparents,” is the brainchild of Dr. Kong. This campaign, initiated in 2001, is still referenced today [18 years later].  It was designed to enlist family members to fight against heart disease in the African American community.  The tools used to support this initiative included “A Guide to A Healthy Heart,” a 30-minute educational video starring actor Robert Guillaume, and a 44-page companion guidebook. “Children Should Know Their Grandparents” captured headlines in nine target markets and generated more than 9,937,562 impressions.  More than 50,000 visitors logged on to ABC’s website and viewed the “Children Should Know Their Grandparents” video.  The ABC fielded over 100 requests for the video and guidebook program to be sent to local libraries and community centers.  The Journal of American College of Cardiology wrote an editorial about the program, commending the ABC for its ongoing commitment and said, “It is a different kind of program because it addresses the needs and culture of the African American community.”

One of ABC’s most enduring programs is its community outreach. Dr. Kong and ABC founding member and past president, Dr. Saunders, pioneered ABC’s community health programs beginning in the late seventies. With a five-year grant from the NHLBI in 1979, they started training volunteers from hundreds of churches in Maryland to monitor blood pressure of the churches’ members and make appropriate referrals. In 1980, as a way to more directly reach African American men, they used left over equipment and literature to organize 20 barbers in six barbershops as high blood pressure control centers as well. This Innovative approach paved the way for proliferation of church-based, barbershop and beauty salon programs throughout the U.S. Over a period of more than two decades, Dr. Saunders and Dr. Kong worked as a team to further develop and expand the reach of church and barbershop programs through the ABC and establish scholarship around their efforts. Though it now bears its signature name, “Spirit of the Heart,” it has evolved and expanded since its early beginnings, extending its reach to schools, corporate wellness programs and even an outreach on Capitol Hill for Congress and its staff.

Today, a grandparent himself with six grandchildren from his four children, Dr. Kong continues to work to increase the lifespan of people with or at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke in his role as president of the Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation headquartered in his native Jamaica.

The Association of Black Cardiologists is proud to honor Dr. Basil Waine Kong with the 2019 Legacy Award.

About the Author:

Dr. Glen Laman
Dr. Glen Laman

Glen Laman is the author of Jamaican Entrepreneurship: A review of the characteristics, traits and ideas of some of the island’s most accomplished entrepreneurs. Visit his website for more information.