|One of four bunches of balloons that mark where the AEDs will be installed at East Brandywine Township Park|
Steve and I search constantly for silver linings. And when they're hard to find, we sometimes create our own.
So, this morning, joined by some family members and dear friends, we staked visible markers of the positive change our loss is effecting. Because of the combined efforts of all of our 5K for Aidan J. supporters and volunteers, Cardiac Science, the East Brandywine Youth Athletics Association, and East Brandywine Township supervisory board, Steve and I are proud to announce the impending installation of 6 AEDs in three of our local parks where kids and teens play recreational sports. The purchase order has been signed, and Cardiac Science is in the process of completing the order so that the machines are in place in the next few weeks-- the beginning of fall soccer season for EBYA. When the third pavilion is built later this year down by the new baseball field of the township park, a 7th AED will be housed there.
The most astonishing part? EBYA is footing the bill for the six machines. Our 5K funds need only contribute to the climate-controlled housings that need to be built on the pavilions for the three machines that will be fully accessible to all park users.
In a crazy act of generosity that goes above and beyond the super-special pricing that they're offering EBYA on these machines, Chip Miller and Cardiac Science are donating a machine as well, which we intend to place within a school that Aidan attended.
Furthermore, the results of Molly and Nate Unger's "Mt. Whitney in a Day" fundraiser are providing 4 additional AEDs for our area, one of which will be installed at their elementary school, East Ward. (Molly is a former preschool classmate and friend of Aidan's). While all schools in Downingtown are equipped with at least one AED, they are all what our AED specialist calls, "end of life," being more than a decade old, and "belong in the Smithsonian." They were placed in the PA district schools as a result of the Greg Moyer Fund as a result of the tobacco settlements in 2001 and 2002. Think about having a 12-year-old cell phone; how much would your ability to communicate be limited? Quite the same for this piece of life-saving equipment, which is the reason why Steve and I will be furthering our efforts in the school district after we do our best to make sure all of the area youth rec leagues have at least one AED at every playing field and court.
This adds up to 12 AEDs that will soon be placed in our local area as a result of Aidan's passing. We began what we hope to be an annual tradition today by setting bunches of balloons (7 balloons per bunch, as was Aidan's age when he died) at each of the sites of the AEDs purchased as a result of the efforts of our community and the 5K event:
(1) at East Ward Elementary School
(4) at East Brandywine Township Park this fall; (1) more will be added when 3rd pavilion is built
(1) at Spatola Field (EBYA T-ball home park)
(1) at Hopewell (EBYA basketball)
Obviously, most readers are doing the math here, and are figuring out that we have additional machines at our disposal to donate at the moment. This is beyond our most hopeful dreams for this effort, and we've only just initiated it a few months ago! Having met and talked at length with several families from Parent Heart Watch, our sponsoring organization, we were told to expect a long period of back-and-forth, rounds of meetings, and even fighting for justification to install AEDs in our community. We are absolutely blown away by the proactive, greatly responsible, ahead-of-the-curve reaction we're receiving from the people who will be helping us get the job done.
Of course, we hope they never have to be used. But having had the "education we never wanted" these past two years, Steve and I are greatly aware that, in a school district of 11,000 children, the odds of a Downingtown youth suffering a cardiac arrest aren't slim.
But, when it happens, we won't be known as the community in which a child died from SCA. We'll be the community that was prepared to successfully manage a sudden cardiac arrest, and some other family or families will be able to see their child(ren) graduate high school, give young adulthood the old college try, and realize the possibilities that have been building for a lifetime.
Thank you for this opportunity to keep the kids in our community safe, Aidan. When we see seven red balloons, we think of your brilliant smile, and we now know they mark the spot of smart machines that can save other victims of SCA. We love you, baby.
Mommy and Dad