CINCINNATI (WKRC) – A mom’s mission to help protect families from losing their children to sudden cardiac arrest is spurring action in Indiana.
And it’s leading to safer sidelines for one school.
Everyone has that teacher who changed their lives. For Hannah Stombaugh – that was her elementary school gym teacher: Julie West
“Julie was honestly the coolest gym teacher,” Stombaugh said. “You cannot take it from me. You can take it from anyone who’s been there. She was so lively and she loved what she did and she loved us all.”
Julie’s son, Jake, went to the rival school.
That rivalry turned into a bond in 2013 when Jake collapsed during football practice from an enlarged heart.
“I love Julie and I saw the pain it brought her and I can’t even imagine what it was like,” Stombaugh said.
Now Stombaugh’s gym class comes in the form of a dance routine for the Miss America pageant.
In 2020, she was crowned Miss South Bend.
“My platform is #HaveAHeart and it originally started with the Play for Jake Foundation,” she said. “What I advocate for AEDs in public schools and awareness of sudden cardiac arrest.”
When the pandemic hit, Hannah began selling masks on her Etsy store.
She sold more than 800 and raised enough money to purchase an AED – or defibrillator, as well as made donations to three heart foundations.
Now, the South Bend School Corporation will add a life-saving device to its largest venue: TCU school field. Milt Lee is the K-12 Athletics Director for SBSC.
“It gives us peace of mind,” Lee said “The location that we’ve selected to put this AED is perfect for quick use and quick access in case we ever need it.
“We teach our student-athletes to have a heart as well That’s exactly what Miss South Bend did and that’s what we teach our student-athletes to do every single day.”
It’s a commitment that goes beyond a title.
“I really want to instill that there’s at least one active, up-to-date AED in each school corporation or building within the state of Indiana,” Stombaugh said.