Advocates come to issues from many places with many backgrounds. And, sometimes, they are young advocates. Angelina D’Acunto is just one of those special advocates. Her family was impacted by CPR through an accident with her cousin. Through this experience, the family formed a foundation, the Just Fight Foundation, to work on a variety of issues. One of these is CPR in Schools, which is how they began to work with the American Heart Association.
Angelina quickly became involved in gathering support for legislation to train all Pennsylvania students in hands-only CPR in high school – something her school already does. In fact, she collected 600 postcards in her community in support of this lifesaving policy. Whether a student or adult advocate, that is a very impressive feat!
As a student, Angelina is very busy with school and activities. Why does she take the time to work on a policy issue?
“I have not personally experienced heart issues but I have decided to take part in spreading the awareness for CPR training because I believe it is such a crucial skill to be learned. This skill saves so many lives daily and I feel that everyone should have the power to do just that. I am very fortunate that my high school, Abington Senior High School, offers this to its students and I am proud to say that I am CPR certified. My cousin, Allyson Turner age 8, has been my inspiration for this project. She is an example of the many people whose life has been saved because of CPR.”
Angelina’s family experienced the unimaginable when her cousin, Allyson, a healthy 7 year old girl, came home from school not feeling well. At her parents suggestion, she took a bath. Then, the unbelievable happened.
Angelina shares the story,
“After a few minutes of being in the tub, her parents heard a thump and called up to Ally and she did not respond, so they went up to check on her. They found Ally submerged under water unconscious, blue, no heart rate, and not breathing. Both parents reacted immediately, they called 911 and started CPR. By the time EMS had arrived they were able to get a heart rate and breaths from Ally. Ally was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital and was then air lifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (CHOP) At CHOP Ally was on maximum life support in the PICU. She spent 4 month in CHOP recovering. Ally sustained an Anoxic Brain Injury following Cardiac Arrest.”
Ally is doing remarkably well. While she inspires Angelina, Angelina inspires the rest of us!
The importance of quick action could not be more evident. And, it is proof that bystander CPR is critical. By training more students, we can increase bystander CPR and more saved lives – like Allyson’s.
By partnering together, the Just Fight Foundation and the American Heart Association hope to see quick passage of CPR in Schools this year. Let’s make Pennsylvania the 36th state! We can all be Angelinas and find ways we can support CPR awareness and CPR in Schools policy!
How will you use this story as inspiration to support CPR in Schools training?