With a sweepstakes contest that goes through the summer, an Ahwatukee-based organization seeks to donate life-saving defibrillators to community centers, schools and churches.
The Ride for Your Heart sweepstakes is carried out by the American Foundation for Cardiomyopathy. The idea stemmed from a growing need for more defibrillators in places where kids spend their time, said Ahwatukee Foothills resident Anthony Miller, president and founder of the group.
The sweepstakes’ prizes include Schwinn Cruiser bikes, a Harley Davidson motorcycle or a 2013 Ford Mustang as the grand prize. Miller said he’d like to draw the winners before the next year.
However, Miller has gotten an early start by placing a defibrillator in Inca Elementary School, located in Buckeye.
“It’s a risk that I’m taking by doing it early, but there’s such an overwhelming need for them,” said Miller, who is an open-heart surgery survivor.
Cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle disease common in children. Unfortunately, while some early symptoms include shortness of breath or fatigue, among others, the first for many is a heart attack.
According to Miller, one in every 15 deaths per day in Arizona are related to sudden cardiac arrest.
That’s why Miller and his 3-year-old organization place such an importance on sending out automated defibrillators into the community and city. The defibrillators deliver a dose of electric energy to the affected heart, which works as a stimulant to the body’s natural pacemaker. On average, a single defibrillator costs around $1,500.
This month the organization is hosting CPR classes at the Ahwatukee Community Center, 4700 E. Warner Road. Proceeds will also go toward raising money for defibrillators.
“I can’t be the only one advocating for this, it has to be flourishing from others too,” said Miller, whose goal is to get the community involved.
The organization’s honorary co-chair Sen. John McComish of Ahwatukee, also a survivor of heart surgery, said the sweepstakes idea is “great, and has already gotten a lot of support.”
“People are more likely to give, if it’s practical,” said McComish of the sweepstakes.
Miller, a former chairman of Legislative District 20, said his experience with heart surgery and history of cardiomyopathy has made him passionate about this cause.
“I want community leaders, business owners, and everyday people to be involved,” he said.
“Let’s make Ahwatukee a heart-safe community.”
• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @_dianamartinez.