Two organizations will combine fun and even silly-sounding activities next week to raise money for something serious.
The Rappahannock YMCA will hold the “Rouse Rally,” an all-day event with pickleball and tennis tournaments, food, beer trucks and music on Saturday, June 25, at the Massad branch in Stafford County. While players of all ages compete in tennis matches, two-people pickleball teams with a combined age of at least 90 will use solid wooden or plastic paddles to whack a different type of ball over the net.
All money raised during the rally will go to Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation, a Fredericksburg nonprofit that’s worked to keep people alive, on and off the courts. The group is named for Gwyneth Griffin, a Stafford County girl who had a cardiac arrest in 2012, shortly before her 13th birthday. She died several months later as a result of being deprived of oxygen for too long before CPR could be administered.
Her parents, Joel and Jennifer Griffin, created the foundation to raise awareness of the importance of knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and being able to use automated external defibrillators when someone’s heart stops beating after a sudden cardiac arrest.
People are also reading…
Any parent could imagine “the pain they’ve gone through,” said Charlotte Rouse, wife of Olympic gold medal swimmer Jeff Rouse.
Both are friends of the Griffins and supporters of the Y, and she also serves on the board of Gwyneth’s Gift, calling it “one of the causes closest to my heart.” She worked with Barney Reiley, CEO of the Rappahannock Area YMCA, to organize the rally in hopes that proceeds will help more people know what to do in an emergency.
The Griffins worked diligently after their daughter’s death to prevent others from experiencing the same heartbreak. By 2015, the General Assembly had passed Gwyneth’s Law which mandated AEDs in all schools, mandatory hands-only CPR training for all public school teachers and hands-only CRP training for all high school students.
The goal is to provide lifesaving measures to people whose hearts suddenly stop beating as a result of a cardiac arrest. To date, the group has trained almost 15,000 people, placed 87 AEDs in public spaces throughout the Fredericksburg area and saved seven lives, according to the Gwyneth’s Gift website.
A testimony from a community member, posted on the website, describes a person’s reaction when a man suffered a cardiac arrest. The person instructed two men to help get the victim to the floor, directed one to call 911 and started chest compressions. When the first responders arrived, they asked how the person knew all that and were told: “Because of Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation.”
Reiley’s life was saved in 2010 by Y staff who used an AED after his heart stopped beating. He’d been exercising on a stairmaster and suddenly stopped, and his doctor said later the sudden stoppage caused a few pieces of plaque to loosen and cause a “cardiac event.”
While Reiley didn’t have the clogged arteries sometimes present in such cases, the resulting attack produced the same result, he said.
“Let me tell you, I wouldn’t be talking to you if the staff wasn’t trained and we didn’t have that AED,” he said.
Reiley said there’s been a lot of interest in the tournaments and rally, which start at 10 am and will continue into the evening. Anyone can participate or attend, whether they’re Y members or not. More information about registration and fees is available on the YMCA’s website.
Gwyneth’s Gift spokesperson Emily Ripka said the group is happy to be associated with the rally because community events are part of the mission to create a “culture of action” where people are educated, confident and empowered to save lives.
“Not only does this type of event promote health and wellness, but it brings members of our community together,” Ripka said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425