"Heart" talk and what I've done to help

"Heart" talk and what I've done to help

One week into the New Year and there is already so much going on in the news!  I typically don't watch the news or partake in the craziness of all that surrounds it, but I do love a good story and I do follow some stories that really leave an impact either out of curiosity or out of praying for good outcomes. 

Most of us have seen or heard about the NFL player Damar Hamlin and his sudden cardiac arrest on the field. Thankfully it sounds like things are turning around for the good.  With that, there has also been a lot of talk regarding CPR & the use of AED machines.  These trainers on the field and the paramedics and staff that were there who administered these life saving techniques truly need all the praise in the world.  They should be getting all the hype, not the person who called the game, not the coach who checked on the others, not the tv newscasters having to come up with something to say and stumbling on national tv; it's our team of people who are trained to save lives who do it in an instant and who have to do it, then go back and do it again, and again, sometimes in the same day.  They are the true hero's.  (please do not take this as me bashing the NFL or anyone surrounding this football team, I'm not, I'm stating how I feel; continue to read and you will know why).

My WHY was in this position at just one years old.  The story about the death of my son, Garret is this.  My son died in his sleep while he was napping at his daycare providers house.  Garret was healthy, he had just had his 1 year check up days before his death.  When the daycare provider found Garret, she administered CPR and called 911.  Her knowledge of CPR and doing this did not save my son's life, but it gave paramedics a moment of hope.  When the sheriff got there, he was able to take Garret to the paramedics that were just arriving and because of a small little test they did (squeezing his fingers and seeing color change), they thought they would be able to get his life back.  Garret was airlifted to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.  We have no idea when Garret's heart stopped or when he stopped breathing, but the babysitter & the paramedics deserve all the praise in the world for having to not think and just do, all the while knowing this is a one year old boy they are trying to save.  Garret died from a kinked right coronary artery (bigger medical term but I'll spare you) that cannot be detected or does not show any symptoms.  It always will most likely cause sudden death (similar to young athletes collapsing on a court with sudden death). All the CPR & an AED would not have saved our son, but...our mission below may save a life. 

After our son's death, my first husband Jack (who was a volunteer EMT) knew first hand what the importance of CPR & and AED available for others would be.  It of course didn't save our son, but it gave us time and hope even for an instant.  We knew we had to help others by placing AED's in businesses or organizations that did not have them.  We used our own money for several of the AED's and then after Jack died, I continued to place AED's where I could and where I saw the need.  I held an annual "Rittenhouse Boy's Golf Outing" each year and we had a pitch tournament one year as well.  I am beyond proud to say that we have donated 14 AED's within our community! I haven't held a fundraiser in awhile, but thinking of bringing it back and continuing on with the donations of AED's.  These are the places that received a "Garret Rittenhouse Memorial AED"

  • DC West Middle School 
  • Waterloo Police Dept. (X2)
  • Waterloo Fire Dept.
  • Valley Police Dept.
  • Waterloo Library
  • Ted E. Bear Hollow (now Grief's Journey)
  • Elkhorn Hills United Methodist Church
  • DC Youth Sports
  • Mead High School
  • Makcovicka PT (Valley location)
  • DC West High School (portable)
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (they paid half and we paid half)

I am thankful that I am and that we were able to give back a gift to our communities and having that peace knowing that if something unfortunate happens, that it is there and available for anyone to use. So, I would say...become CPR & AED certified wherever you live; it truly could save a life.  

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  I write truthfully and fully because its cathartic for me and also, my story needs to be told.  To learn and to know the deepest part of my losses will only impact our journey together and further help all  who are grieving.  Blessing to you all! 


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I was just talking about this the other day. Now that I’m retired, I’m going to take a CPR class. My brother is going to join me, and I’m sure Rich will come too.

Jill Shefte

Love u Angie!


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