Family Donates Equipment to Help Save Lives

Groff photo #2-1 (400 x 300)The tragic death of her healthy, active 12-year old cousin spurred Becky Groff to make a difference for her community.

“A little more than a week before her 13th birthday, Taylor died after unexpectedly collapsing during soccer practice,” said Groff. Unbeknownst to anyone, Taylor Waltman suffered from a heart condition, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which occurs without any apparent reason and is a significant cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick — or hypertrophied. This thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood and may also affect the heart’s electrical system.

Groff discovered there was no Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, on the soccer field where Taylor collapsed nor were there any on the playing fields in Queen Anne’s County.

“This raised a red flag for me…I contacted EMS (Emergency Medical Service) Chief Scott Haas to see if it would be possible and beneficial to buy and donate an AED in memory of Taylor,” said Groff. Haas agreed and helped with research and ordering of the device, which was then donated to the Department of Parks and Recreation and is now housed in the concessions building at Old Love Point Park.

Groff said the family will never know if having an AED would have made a difference for Taylor but it may make a difference in someone else’s life.

“Taylor’s heart condition is not common but heart failure is and having an AED where kids and adults gather keeps our county parks better prepared and safer for everyone,” she said.

Groff isn’t stopping with the AED at Old Love Point Park. “My goal is to keep raising funds to purchase AEDs for other soccer fields here in Queen Anne’s County… and to take proceeds from the Chesapeake Bay Wine Festival and donate them to the county,” she said. As one of three partners of Inspired Events, LLC, Groff and her colleagues have pledged to donate the funds from the event, scheduled for June 5 and 6, 2010 at Terrapin Park in Stevensville.

“The Groffs are to be commended for their generosity and their ability to take their tragedy and turn it around in order to help save lives,” said Haas.

According to the American Heart Association, about 80 percent of all out of hospital cardiac arrests happen in the home and effective CPR provided immediately after cardiac arrest can double a victim’s survival chances. CPR keeps the blood flow to the brain and heart until defibrillator or other advanced care can restore normal heart action.

Queen Anne’s County has dispatcher assisted CPR and defibrillation so callers can administer these life saving techniques until EMS personnel arrive. For more detailed information, go to