Michigan - March 8, 2011 - On Thursday, March 3, 2011, 16 year-old Fennville High School student Wes Leonard died after scoring the game-winning layup, suffering a sudden cardiac arrest due to a previous enlarged heart condition. Leonard is the second Fennville athlete to die post competition in the past 14 months. Nathan Hernandez, 14 year-old wrestler, was taken by a fatal seizure while in his home in January of 2010. The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, Inc. (RMBF), Start a Heart, and the Institute of Medical Emergency Preparedness (IMEP) are donating an automated external defibrillator (AED) to Fennville High School in honor of Wes Leonard, a true culmination of cheers and tears.

The AED unit is being donated by RMBF and IMEP in joint awareness and reverence. The donated Defibitech Lifeline unit is paired with Stat PADS, LLC. AED oversight and use program. Additionally, Start a Heart is donating a Life OnBoard hard case for the unit, an AED rescue kit, and an extra adult electrode. The aim is to empower Fennville High School with the life-saving equipment necessary to navigate a medical emergency.

“We are with the Leonard family and Fennville community in heart and soul. Medical Emergency Preparedness (MEP) cannot bring Wes back; but we can celebrate his incredible life by promising to ready our nation’s schools for response,” says Nicole Cunha, Executive Director of RMBF. Peter Metcalfe, President of Start a Heart, echoes this sentiment, stating: “Sudden cardiac arrest occurs (SCA) without warning, and affects all ages and all levels of fitness. We are pleased to be a part of protecting kids, teachers and visitors' safety and well-being. Most of these victims died because a defibrillator was not quickly available. According the American Heart Association, 50% to 70% of SCA victims would survive if treated with a defibrillator in the first 3 minutes. Unfortunately, most lifesaving equipment is not accessible or does not arrive soon enough. As a result, typical survival rates are only between two and five percent.”

The donation is intended to protect Fennville High students and community in the event of a future emergency. With the AED donation Fennville is now a HeartSafe High School.

RMBF is a 501 (c) (3) charity driven to providing preventative education based on medical emergency preparedness and has adopted The Six Links of Survival™, developed by the Institute of Medical Emergency Preparedness, as a convenient mechanism for dental offices to ensure that all areas of appropriate preparation are adequately covered.

Start a Heart is a distributor for Defibtech AEDs, a company that makes heart safety more affordable for businesses. The company's user-friendly AEDs were named one of 2010's hottest products in the Industrial Design Excellence competition, by the Industrial Design Society of America.

IMEP is a doctor-created organization that addresses the nation’s need for increased MEP awareness and initiatives. IMEP serves healthcare professionals, providing the training and solutions that allow these first responders to act calmly, quickly, and confidently to emergency and crisis situations.

For more information about RMBF’s AED donation campaign, please visit RMBFInc.org. For information on Start a Heart’s programs and offering, visit Startaheart.com; and for insight into MEP solutions and practices, IMEP can be found at Emergencyactionguide.com.