What would you do if you were playing a game with your friend and he suddenly collapsed because of sudden cardiac arrest? According to the American Heart Association, “nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home and many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease. [However] Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.”

This happened to Pingry student and Chatham resident John Taylor Babbitt in St. Patrick’s Gymnasium while playing basketball with his friends. He possessed an undiagnosed heart condition, which unfortunately proved fatal.

On Sept. 29, students gathered to celebrate and honor Babbitt. The “Walk with Heart” event included a leisurely walk through campus and provided free food and refreshments, T-shirts, and information on sudden cardiac arrest prevention and response methods. Freshmen received FYE credits for participating, but more than just freshmen were there.

The participants enjoyed a 2.3-mile walk around campus, passing all the spots where automated external defibrillator [AEDs] were present. Organizer Cathleen Keating ’13 said, “There are eight total AEDs on campus. We had about 150 students participate which was great and it was really a great success and I am so happy with how it turned out.”

With the $2,000 raised, they hope to install at least two more AEDs on campus.

Participant and former co-founder and treasurer as well as recent graduate Patrick McCahill said: “I was very happy to come back and help support a great cause for a great friend and see the great progress that Cathy and the other leaders have made with the club.”

Keating said, “I think it really made more students aware of the risks of sudden cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death. Even though I am a senior, I think the club will continue having the walk every fall and hopefully more students can participate each year, so it grows into a campus-wise awareness.”

The John Taylor Babbitt Foundation was formed to advocate sudden cardiac arrest prevention through legislation, walks and fundraisers. According to the foundation’s website, they recently had their “legislation to increase access, availability, and use of automated external defibrillators by Good Samaritans in emergency situations…signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.”

The foundation also focuses on teaching people ways to prevent and respond to cardiac emergencies. The American Heart Association tells us that “failure to act in a cardiac emergency can lead to unnecessary deaths and effective … CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can … triple a victim’s chance of survival.”

These statistics support the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation’s mission to raise awareness, by showcasing one response to sudden cardiac arrest.

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