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Gomes dedicated to charitable endeavor
by Marc Narducci / July 19, 2007

Boston Celtics forward Ryan Gomes is showing the true meaning of teamwork, hoping his latest effort will save lives.

Gomes announced on Wednesday that his non-profit organization, Hoops for Heart Health, has formed a partnership with another non-profit group, Parent Heart Watch. The goal is to raise awareness and funds for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

SCA is not a heart attack – it is a condition in which the heart stops abruptly and unexpectedly and no longer pumps blood. According to the Heart Rhythm Society, the international leader in science, education and advocacy for heart rhythm disorders, more than 250,000 Americans die each year from SCA.

The Pediatric Clinic of North America estimates that SCA kills between 70,000 and 100,000 children each year. SCA most often occurs in children ages 10-19 and affects males four times more than females. However it can occur without respect to age, race or gender. SCA occurs during exercise more than 60 percent of the time.

As their first joint initiative, the two organizations will donate Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) to the Health Careers Academy, a public high school located in Boston; and to Stonehill College in Easton, MA.

Both Hoops for Heart Health and Parent Heart Watch plan to donate AEDs in various NBA cities during the 2007-2008 season.

The impetus to become involved in SCA came from Gomes’ AAU coach Wayne Simone. It was Simone who pointed out that one of his former AAU players, Stanley Myers, died of SCA in May 0f 2005 as a student at Morgan State.

“I had wanted to start a foundation and my AAU coach brought told me about Stanley and that got me thinking of it,” Gomes said.

And the wheels really went in motion when Gomes saw Rachel Moyer profiled on television for her work on behalf of SCA this winter.

Moyer is the co-founder of Parent Health Watch, a state-by-state network of parents dedicated to combating SCA. In 2000, Moyer lost her son Gregory to SCA and two years later she helped co-found the organization.

So after seeing Moyer profiled, Gomes got in touch with her and the result is now a union of two organizations working together toward one common goal.

“Ryan is a genuine person,” Moyer said. “He’s not doing this for publicity. He is using his position to make a difference.”

Moyer said that Parent Heart Watch has placed more than 1,000 AEDs in various schools or recreation centers. The organization has also been instrumental in having eight different bills passed mandating AEDs in schools.

Gomes, who is entering his third season with the Celtics, is excited to be joining this new team.

He has been considered an overachiever since being drafted 50th in the second round in 2005. Last season Gomes averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds. Now he hopes both organizations can enjoy similar success.

Just as his NBA career is beginning to take off, Gomes is using his notoriety to help with this cause. And he’s doing more than just writing checks. Gomes wants to be an active participant.

“My goal is to try to educate others and benefit,” Gomes said. “What better way to try to educate others if something happens and to be able to save lives.”

So Gomes hopes the organizations not only can spread the word about SCA, but also teach others to use the AEDs.

And he says he has been both motivated and honored to be working with Moyer.

“She has witnessed this first hand with her son and I have so much respect for her and the work she has done,” Gomes said.

For Moyer and the other parents involved, this is a way to carry out the legacy of their children. In their memory, lives are now being saved.

Parent Heart Watch has 170 families representing 43 states. And now there is the addition of a big-hearted Boston Celtic.

Besides spreading the word about SCA and helping to save lives, the goal of the organizations is to also provide support for families, teammates, classmates and coaches after an athlete has died from SCA.

“We are creating a legacy for our children and they would be proud to know that the legacy includes a player from the Boston Celtics,” Moyer said.

Of course to continue donating defibrillators, both organizations will be on fund-raising efforts. Gomes said the defibrillator that was donated to the Boston public school cost $1,500. So in the ensuing months, both foundations hope to have successful fund-raising efforts. For those who would like to contribute, the best way is to go to either organization’s websites – www.parentheartwatch.org or www.hoopsforhearthealth.com.

“Something like knowing how to use a defibrillator can save somebody’s life,” Gomes said. “We think that bringing awareness can really make a difference.”

Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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