LANSING — Today on the House floor, state Rep. Angela Witwer (Delta Township) was joined by families who have lost children and siblings due to sudden cardiac arrest and have since worked to increase awareness of the dangers facing some student-athletes. Michigan has lost at least 72 student-athletes to sudden cardiac arrest or related causes since 1999.

“Each of these individuals deserves to be recognized for their crucial work as advocates for this important cause,” said Witwer. “No one who has not experienced the tragedy of losing a child can fully understand it, but these families have found a way to turn their loss into an opportunity to help others, and that is a truly remarkable, admirable feat. We can all learn a great deal from their courage, and I am grateful for their continued work to ensure the safety of students across our state.”

Joining Witwer from her district were Laura and Chris Guild of Grand Ledge, who lost their son in 2017 when he lost consciousness during a football workout. The two have worked hard to raise awareness and have remained advocates for the cause since. Also attending as special guests of the representative were Randy Gillary and his daughter, Emily Kucinich, who started the Kimberly Anne Gillary Foundation to honor the memory of Kimberly, after she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during a water polo game in 2000. Their organization helps provide Michigan high schools with at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) on site in case of sudden cardiac arrest. Alongside similar foundations, their organization has donated 1,100 AEDs and provided training to teachers and staff on proper use of the machines to schools across Michigan.