MICHIGAN CITY, Indiana - Law enforcement officials from throughout LaPorte County gathered on July 23, 2019, with organizers of the "Bolt for the Heart Family 5K" to tout the effort to bring lifesaving automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to every squad car in the county.
The inaugural "Bolt for the Heart 5K Family Run/Walk," presented by Franciscan Health, will be 8 a.m. on Sunday, September 8, 2019, in Washington Park. The eight law enforcement departments in LaPorte County are partnering with "Bolt for the Heart" and "Play for Jake" in this event, where 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward the goal of placing AEDs in police cars area to help save people who experience sudden cardiac arrest. Franciscan Health Michigan City hosted a launch event where organizers talked about the drive to make this event a success.
Abigale Kuchta, special events coordinator for Michigan City, said, "We are so excited to be partnering with 'Bolt for the Heart', with 'Play for Jake,' with all the different law enforcement agencies throughout the county to make this a really neat experience for not only Michigan City, but also LaPorte County."
Pierre Twer, president of "Bolt for the Heart," thanked Michigan City Police Chief Royce Williams for taking the idea of the "Bolt for the Heart 5K" to the next level with approval from his entire department. He also acknowledged the support of Franciscan Health and its role in heart screening and creating awareness on the front end.
"We're excited about this event because it lines up with one of our core values, which is respect for life," said Franciscan Health President/CEO Dean Mazzoni. "We know that our police officers and our sheriffs are oftentimes the first to respond and be on the scene when medical attention is needed. The ability to initiate lifesaving care quickly can mean the difference between life and death."
Sheriff John Boyd pointed out that LaPorte County is the second largest in the state with just over 614 square miles. At any given time, the approximately 20 police officers working, outnumber the seven ambulances in the county, making AEDs a crucial tool for police officers. "Together, we are going to make a difference, and there's no question that we will be saving lives."
"Being proactive is so important instead of being reactive. We see the changes that need to be made and we're all coming together to do that," said Julie West Schroeder. She created the "Play for Jake Foundation" in honor of her son, Jake West, a LaPorte High School junior who collapsed and died during football practice from an undetected heart condition. Her organization goes into schools to provide free EKGs and echocardiograms to students who register.
Twer, who is a Michigan City native, emphasized three ways that community members can get involved: first, by always looking for the AED in public spaces; second, by registering for the race and getting family and friends involved; and third, for companies to sponsor an AED at the cost of $1,295 and have their support displayed in a sticker on the back window of the police vehicle.
"I'm really excited about the enthusiasm for this event. I've often felt that Michigan City is a great opportunity for a big, large running event," Twer said.
Individual entries are $30 and include a shirt and medal for those who sign up during the early registration period. Groups and families who buy four registrations can get one free. A "Play For Jake" registration package for $99 includes a jacket, shirt, custom bib and a Franciscan Health CT heart scan.
Online registration for the "Bolt for the Heart Family 5K" is available at https://boltfortheheart.com.