June 25, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State's men's basketball player Danny Berger and USU head athletic trainer Mike Williams recently participated in the Hoops for Heart Health Foundation's annual event in Southington and Watertown, Conn., attending the dinner Sunday night before participating in the golf tournament on Monday.
The Hoops for Heart Health Foundation, which is in its sixth year, was started by former NBA player Ryan Gomes, who started the foundation to generate awareness of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and to educate athletes and those around them to recognize SCA and train them to react in a way that will save lives, provide schools and other public recreation areas with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), advocate for AEDs in public places around the country and train lay people to respond immediately with CPR and how to use an AED, and to promote screening and testing measures to identify potential heart conditions in children.
Berger, a native of Medford, Ore., had a serious medical situation during practice on Dec. 4, 2012 and was tended to on the court by Williams. CPR was performed and the AED was used on him until ambulance personnel arrived. On Dec. 8, Berger was released from Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and was on the bench with his teammates at USU's game that night. Berger did not play the remainder of the season, but has resumed regular activities and is expected to return to action next season.
"I was honored to be here. It was great to see everyone who runs and operates the foundation. There were a lot of people here this weekend who take special interest in this industry and this topic. It was good for me to be able to put a face to everything that they dedicate their time and efforts to doing. I was able to say 'I'm physical evidence that everything that you guys do on a daily basis works.' That it means something to the people out there. I just thought that was really cool," Berger said.
At the banquet, both Berger and Williams spoke, telling Berger's story and how it has impacted both their lives. The dinner honored several individuals whose mission is the same as the Hoops for Heart Health mission, to generate awareness of SCA, educating athletes and those around them to recognize the symptoms of SCA and train them to react in CPR and AED use.
"It was a great event, I was honored and happy to be there. I was glad they arranged for us to go out there. Ryan Gomes and his group are just all-around stand up people. They are doing a great job of educating people about AEDs and sudden cardiac arrest. It was really an honor for me to go out there and for Danny and I to speak with them and tell our story, and for what they've done to help us across the state of Utah. It's a great honor for me to be associated with Ryan Gomes and his Hoops for Heart Health Foundation," Williams said.
In addition to talking with everyone at the event, Berger and Williams had their photos taken with Gomes, and Berger had his photo taken with Tina Charles, a WNBA player, who donates an AED for each double-double that she has throughout the 2013 season. The Connecticut Sun center has the two highest single-season double-double totals (23 in 2011; 22 in 2010) in WNBA history
Proceeds from the fundraising events, including the dinner, golf tournament, raffle prizes and silent auction, will benefit Hoops for Heart Health, which provides schools and other public recreation areas with AEDs and advocates for medical devices in public places around the country and the training necessary to treat SCA immediately and effectively. It also promotes preventative measures such as testing and cardiac awareness to identify heart conditions and related health issues. Gomes' Hoops for Heart Health Foundation has now donated more than 100 AEDs to schools, recreation centers, and sports organizations around the country.
Berger's incident, and the attention it drew, has had a substantial impact. Berger and Williams attended Utah legislative sessions that led to a bill allocating $300,000 for the purchase and placement of AEDs around the state.
Fans can follow the Aggie men's basketball program at twitter.com/AggieHoops. USU fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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