La Porte County will benefit once again from vital tools that could make the difference between saving a life and suffering a loss, when racers take to the streets for the 2nd annual Bolt for the Heart 5K Family Run /Walk/Half Marathon. Details about the race were announced Wednesday morning at a news conference hosted at Franciscan Health Michigan City. Sponsored by Franciscan Health, the race is set for 9 a.m., Sept. 27, and aims to raise awareness for heart disease. All proceeds from sponsorships and tax-deductible registrations will go toward the purchase of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be placed in every police patrol vehicle in La Porte County.
“This opportunity will provide us the ability to be proactive and save lives throughout La Porte County,” said La Porte County Sheriff John T. Boyd. “We are the second largest county geographically in the state of Indiana and our first responders are often the first arriving on scene in a medical emergency. It’s not uncommon for us to be ahead of an ambulance by 15-20 minutes, and when seconds and minutes count this will give us an opportunity to save lives.”
Bolt for the Heart is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that raises money through generous sponsors like Franciscan Health, donations, and family 5Ks/half marathons to buy AEDs for first responders. Since its establishment in 2010, Bolt has donated more than 2,000 AEDs.
“Prior to 2014 we would just place AEDs in not-for-profit facilities, but in 2014 we focused our efforts more toward law enforcement and first responders,” said Bolt for the Heart President Pierre Twer. “This shift came as a result of a conversation that one our board members, a cardiologist, had with a state trooper during an exam. He asked the trooper if he had an AED in his car, and he said he did not but he sure could use one, and shared an example of how just a few months earlier he could have saved a life with an AED if he’d had one. On that day we made it our mission to focus on the first responder heroes we have in the state of Indiana.”
One of the first goals Bolt for the Heart undertook with this new mission was to outfit the entire Indiana State Patrol team with AEDs. They accomplished this last year, and have since donated hundreds of AEDs to the Indiana State Police to date, and are now looking to expand their reach to La Porte County law enforcement patrol cars and Sheriff Boyd’s team.
“These tools can also help save the lives of our deputies and first responders as well,” Boyd said. “We are thankful for this investment in our first responders and the opportunity to be proactive in saving the lives of the citizens we are pledged to protect and preserve.”
“We’ve placed 550 AEDs in state trooper vehicles, and now we’re shifting our focus to the sheriff’s departments in the 92 counties in Indiana,” Twer said. “Our EMS departments do heroic things, however, most the time, since our law enforcement officers’ cars are mobile, they arrive on scene in about half the time that EMS does - scenes where someone may need an AED and CPR. These AEDs will save lives and increase the chance for survival.”
As the premiere sponsor of Bolt for the Heart, Franciscan Health is dedicated to making sure that all participants are kept safe while they race in support of a cause to save others, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we are very enthusiastic about building on last year’s success, Franciscan Health is also vigilant about the precautionary measures we are taking to keep our runners safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Dean Mazzoni, President and CEO of Franciscan Health Michigan City. “Our utmost concern is the health and safety of our community and those who participate in this event.”
Adjustments to the race will include social distancing, hand sanitizing, and face masks, as well as a virtual race option.
“We will continue to closely monitor the prevalence of the disease in our community,” Mazzoni said. “Right now it’s a very fluid situation, but we are confident that we can make this race happen in a safe and responsible way. We look forward to another safe and successful event for the benefit of our community and the support of our first responders and our law enforcement officers.”
The Play for Jake Foundation will once again be a participating sponsor in the race, aiming to increase awareness and educate parents and youth about the dangers of undetected heart conditions. The foundation is named in honor of Jake West, a La Porte High School football player who passed away suddenly during practice from an undetected heart condition.
“I want to extend a thank you to Julie Schroeder, the president and founder of the Play for Jake Foundation,” Twer said. “They are doing great work on educating about heart scans and continuum of care. If we can diagnose an issue up front, you may never need that AED on the other side, and we appreciate their involvement and their contribution to the cause.”
Online registration and sponsorship options for the Bolt for the Heart Family 5K/Half Marathon are available at https://boltfortheheart.com/