CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward has been on a mission for years to bring awareness to heart health and he, his family and his Make Them Know Your Name Foundation did just that Saturday afternoon at their Cleveland All-Star Fitness Expo and Comedy Bash.
The event took place Saturday morning inside FirstEnergy Stadium and featured CPR and AED training and education, live fitness classes for all experience levels, health screenings, comedy and entertainment and on-site vendors.
"It’s important just bringing heart health to everybody, giving everybody an opportunity to come in workout, get their blood up and just get a workout in, and just have fun, learn about CPR and AEDs," Denzel said.
Joining the event was Denzel's mother Nicole and grandmother Geneva. The family, continuing to advocate for heart health awareness after the tragic death of Denzel's father in 2016.
"This is an event we’re doing in honor of my late husband and my son’s dad and Mrs. [Geneva] Ward’s son who passed away from sudden cardiac arrest and very unexpectedly," Nicole said. "When he passed away. no one used an AED or performed CPR, so we just want to just leverage our platform that we’ve been blessed with in order to make sure another family doesn’t have to experience what we experienced."
Geneva made sure to attend to show appreciation for the work her grandson and his foundation has done since her son's passing.
"I wanted to come because I wanted to show that I was appreciating everything that they were doing and participating in heart health as well after losing my son at the age of 46 which is a very hard loss for us all," she said.
During the event, celebrity guests like Browns legend Bernie Kosar arrived, also using the day to learn how to perform CPR and how to use an AED.
"We’re teaching some CPR to the public, mainly hands-only stuff, just getting people exposed to how to do CPR," said University Hospital's Jeremy DiBell as Kosar walked up to him.
"And he’s doing an awesome job teaching us CPR, Jeremy. He had a patient here, despite what some of my coaches said that I’m not coachable I think I was very coachable today," Kosar chimed in.
Studies have shown around 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen each year in the United States. DiBell noted the importance of the lessons in saving lives in situations that are incredibly common.
"It’s important because you’re the first step cause and that’s the best outcome is early defibrillation, early CPR," he said.
The Wards and their Make Them Know Your Name Foundation hold events like Saturday's often for that reason—hoping to prevent tragedies and encourage heart health for as many people as they can possibly reach.
"It can happen to anyone but the good news is it that is is preventable, we just need to know this lifesaving skill so if you do not know this lifesaving skill I encourage you to learn and help save a life," Nicole said.
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