Kathie Parks and her children, a remarkable family, have turned their grief and sadness into a devotion to providing an instrument to schools that can aid in preventing the death from sudden cardiac arrest.
We want you to read and share Kathie’s story and do whatever you can to help this very important organization:
Kathie: I am Harrison Hugs, Inc’s Mum. I am a mother of 4 beautiful children and an ER RN. In March of 2014, my second eldest son died due to a sudden cardiac arrest. This was and is a tremendous blow to our little family. His brother and sisters and I decided we couldn’t let another feel the pain we felt, but what could we do? We learned sudden cardiac arrest, which leads to death of many athletes and young people, doesn’t always have to end in death. A simple device called an automated external defibrillator, AED, could make the difference between life and death in these situations, along with good CPR.
An AED, sounded so simple and seems we have heard about them being everywhere, casinos and airports and malls. When we inquired about the local schools having them, well we were shocked to hear the answer no. But the most jaw dropping fact is California does NOT mandate schools to have AEDs on campuses, only recommends. This was the birth of Harrison Hugs, Inc in July of 2014.
We decided the children and staff of the local school district, Simi Valley, deserved to have a heart safe school. Harrison Hugs mission was then created. Our goal is to provide AEDs to schools, train staff CPR/AED use, among other things. We started going to school board meetings because you can’t just install an AED, there are many legal issues involved. We needed approval from the board to accept the AED donations, train the staff, etc. The board stepped up and went above and beyond my expectations.
Our greatest moment is when the school board purchased 50 AEDs using bond money and agreed to pay for any staff member who wanted to be trained. 50 AEDs…that is enough for 1 for each school and 1 for each sport to have at all home and away events. This was done by February 2015. My non profit organization infancy was well on its way to toddlerhood.
We haven’t stopped there. We’ve since donated 4 more AEDs to the school district to have more at larger middle schools; donated to a private school; donated to the local Boys & Girls Club; donated to a non profit girls softball league. And we are nowhere near done.
In 10 years I hope to see us everywhere, not necessarily our name, but by seeing an AED in any school I walk into in California. I want to have challenged enough school districts to become Heart Safe Accredited that it something parents look for when searching for schools for their children. Sudden cardiac arrests are going to happen, I want to make sure it doesn’t end in sudden cardiac death. I want that statistic to change drastically in 10 years.
Our legacy is my son Harrison. Harrison Hugs is my son’s legacy. He was known for helping people however they needed it, and giving hugs to everyone. Harrison Hugs wants to be known for helping people when they need it most, but our biggest hope is that the AEDs are never needed.
Our first grant was from Firehouse Subs for $15,000 which purchased 10 AEDs. It was an amazing day for us! We have since donated them all! They requested a patch as they collect patches from groups they award grants to. The remaining patches will be put on the soft carrying case of future donated AEDs.
Donations are the biggest way the community can help out right now. Our website www.harrisonhugs.org has a way to donate on there. Or send checks to the address listed. And spreading the word of our organization and the work we do. We want to help as many as we possibly can. Harrison wouldn’t have it any other way!