Friends and family of Henry Andresen, a Valley Stream resident who died in Blessed Sacrament Church two years ago, held a fundraiser at Eisenhower Park on April 8 to raise money to fund and distribute automated external defibrillators to local churches that don’t have them.
“The kids had a blast,” said Andresen’s daughter, Kerry Boring, of Kings Park.
The annual event centers on ice hockey scrimmages between local high schools, and raises money for the cause through sponsors, raffle tickets and food sales. Teams from Saint Anthony’s High School, in Huntington, and Monsignor Farrell High School, in Staten Island, played each other several times throughout the day at the Northwell Health Center rink.
This year’s fundraising totals sharply declined, however — which Boring attributed to scheduling, since the benefit occurred during a popular vacation week. The event raised about $5,000 — less than half of the $13,000 raised last year. AEDs, retail for about $1,000 each.
Last year, Boring and the event’s organizers donated 12 machines to area churches — including Blessed Sacrament, where her father died in February 2015.
Andresen, 75, suffered a heart attack in the church, which motivated churches in neighboring communities to purchase AEDs. The machines deliver an electrical current to the heart through the victim’s chest wall, which can start a non-beating heart or interrupt a chaotic rhythm and allow the heartbeat to return to normal. The machines have a success rate as high as 74 percent, and for each minute that defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced by about 10 percent.
Boring said she knew of a recent scare at Holy Name of Mary Church in Valley Stream — which has an AED — when a woman collapsed.
“They didn’t have to use it,” she said. “But they said that they felt so safe.”
Boring, a registered nurse for more than 20 years, said that many people are afraid to use the machine, but that it’s not difficult.
One of the churches that received a donated machine last year recently returned it, she said, citing fear of liability. But Boring explained that Good Samaritan laws — which provide basic legal protection for those who assist a person who is injured or in danger — safeguard operators of AEDs.
In addition to rasing funds for AEDs, Boring and others volunteer their time to teach community members how to use them.
Tom Avallone, of Valley Stream, a certified instructor with the American Heart Association and an emergency medical technician, is one of the volunteers for the classes.
“I donate my time whenever she’s got something going on,” he said of Boring’s CPR and AED classes. Classes have recently been held at Holy Name of Mary Church, in Valley Stream, as well as several other locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Avallone said the classes are fun, and he enjoys teaching people how to save lives. “There’s a lot of people who will walk over a body because they think they can’t do anything to help them,” he said.
For next year’s AED fundraiser, Boring said, she and other organizers hope to have New York City police and fire department members play each other in a hockey scrimmage.
For more information about CPR or AED instructional classes, or to find out how you can donate to Boring’s cause, email her at email@example.com.