Wes Leonard’s Parents Want Life Saving Devises In All Schools.
Had there been an automatic defibrillator (AED) in the building at the time when Wes Leonard suddenly collapsed on the basketball court after leading his team to victory, the tragic outcome may have been different. A few months after their sons death, Gary and Jocelyn Leonard want the state to pass a law requiring that all schools have an AED.
“We have to look out for all kids,” Wes’ mother, Jocelyn Leonard, said Tuesday. “All kids deserve one more game. My kid deserved one more game. We can honor him by changing the law to make more kids safe.”
Wes died of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, that was caused by a virus. An electric shock from an AED, if administered quickly, might have saved his life. Because of the condition of his heart, he would likely have been a candidate for a heart transplant.
Fennville schools had an AED on March 3, but it was not in the buidling when Wes died. Thanks to a foundation the Leonards formed, the district now has six AED’s and they want to get at least two more. On Tuesday the foundation received a $5,000 contribution from The Rush, an Auburn Hills company that captures video highlights of athletes in sports events. The foundation’s other donations include $3,000 from Hope and $1,000 from Chemical Bank.
The foundation also plans to donate AEDs to low-income schools, said Wes’ father, Gary Leonard.
Ultimately, the parents want the state to require the devices — as well as training for them – -just as it requires fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and other safety devices. They are working with state lawmakers who are drafting legislation.
Other parents who have lost chldren to sudden cardiac arrest attempted to get a law passed without much success. Maybe with the national attention the Wes Leonard story received, it might garner some support in Lansing. Gary and Jocelyn have taken a class in how to use an AED.
“We all have guilt on us because we didn’t save him,” Jocelyn Leonard said. “That doesn’t go away. But now what are we going to do with it?”
“We aren’t blaming anybody,” Gary Leonard said. “We need the help of everybody.”