(WHTM) — Sudden cardiac arrest has dominated headlines since the world watched Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin collapse on the field during an NFL game.
That shocking event hit close to home for one of our Remarkable Women finalists — Julie Walker.
The Olympic Skating Center in Enola got an AED in 2017. Although an AED is a small unit, it can save lives.
Six years after getting the life-saving device, it did just that when a ten-year-old girl had a sudden cardiac arrest at the rink.
“I never thought I’d have to use it. After the donation I really thought it’s a good idea to have something like that and hopefully, I’ll never have to use it, but, thank god it was here,” said Mac McArthur of the Olympic Skating Center.
It was the work of Whiz McCormick, a Trinity High School alumnus.
“He thought it would be a good idea to have an AED in the building because we didn’t have one,” McArthur added.
Whiz has a heart condition that he discovered through a free screening put on by the Peyton Walker Foundation.
“Whiz attended our very first heart screening in 2016 at Trinity High School. We did find something in him and diagnosed him with a heart issue, but then he was inspired to pay it forward,” said Julie Walker of the Peyton Walker Foundation.
The Peyton Walker Foundation holds free heart screenings for central Pennsylvania students to detect undiagnosed heart conditions before they turn fatal.
The organization also offers CPR training and donates AED machines across the Midstate.
“You know, you turn your mess into your message, your pain into your purpose, and do good,” Walker added.
In 2013, Walker lost her 19-year-old daughter Peyton to sudden cardiac arrest.
“There’s got to be other families out there that are losing their kids and they have no idea why. So what can we learn about sudden cardiac arrest and how can we help save families from this devastating heartache?” Walker said.
Ten years later, the Peyton Walker Foundation is transforming legislation and inspiring conversation about sudden cardiac arrest. By the end of 2023, the organization will reach 500 AEDs donated.
“We were given Peyton for 19 years and my god, what a gift that was. I’m so thankful that we had this kid. She was amazing. And if I did nothing to honor the life, I couldn’t live with myself.
That’s just that’s, that wouldn’t have been enough for me”
Now, Walker is responsible for the AED that gave the little girl at the Olympic Skating Center a second chance.
“We now know of three recorded saves with the AEDs we’ve donated. We saved a mom at a baseball game, we saved a grandfather in the city of Harrisburg, but saving a child. So I said this one, this one hits differently because I’ve lived this and I will live this the rest of my life,” Walker said.
Walker is a mom surviving after tremendous loss, but the work she is doing is saving lives.
“Knowing that a family has now been spared from this devastating heartache, because of the work we’re doing. There’s no words,” said Walker.
November 2023 will mark 10 years since Peyton died of sudden cardiac arrest while in college. In the decade that followed, her mom Julie Walker ensured Peyton’s legacy will extend long after her life.
Tune in to Good Day PA on March 29, 2023, at 10 a.m. when the winner of Remarkable Women is revealed.