Everyone deals with the loss of a loved one differently.
Some are called into action to keep other families from suffering their same heartache.
Ann Thompson’s world changed forever on May 23, 2012.
It started when her 16-year-old son Adam said he felt tired and short of breath.
He went to go lie down.
“We heard him within minutes…we heard him fall on the floor,” Adam’s Mom Ann Thompson said.
“‘What did we do wrong? What did we miss?’ We can’t think of anything,” Thompson said.
An autopsy revealed something unexpected: Adam’s heart was four times as thick as a regular heart.
It caused him to go into cardiac arrest.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t do CPR and we didn’t know the signs of cardiac arrest and that’s a huge part of what we’ve learned from that day,” Thompson said.
Now she’s sharing what she’s learned with other families through the Adam L. Thompson Foundation, which has helped kids in Baltic receive free heart screenings.
“Last year we did 67 kids, so that’s pretty good,” Thompson said.
She also spreads awareness and raises money to get free CPR kits and AEDs into schools and businesses or organizations.
It’s not cheap.
“It runs us maybe $1,100-1,200 for an AED and a cabinet together,” Thompson said.
St. Francis House Executive Director Julie Becker called Ann only for some guidance when she needed to get AEDs for the organization’s new building project.
“Ann immediately stepped in and said, ‘You know what, Julie? I have one for you,'” St. Francis House Executive Director Julie Becker said.
The AED will go the organization’s new home that is being built for its guests.
“This is crucial for us to save lives,” Becker said.
Sudden cardiac arrest often leads to death within minutes if it’s not treated, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Division Chief Jeff Helm has seen CPR and AEDs save lives.
“There’s a reason we invest in our community in AEDs and public access defibs is because we know it’s a tool that can make a difference, an outcome,” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Division Chief Jeff Helm said.
Kelli Volk: Do you think you’ve saved lives?
Thompson: I hope so. I think so.
That’s enough to keep pushing.
“When our funds aren’t very good and I’m just like, ‘What would happen if I didn’t do this? Would it make a difference? Would anybody notice?,'” Thompson said.
But then she thinks about that day her life changed forever.
“If what happened to Adam can save another child it helps me heal,” Thompson said.
Ann has countless memories of her son, some about his generosity.
Perhaps that’s something that runs in the family: a heart for helping others.
If you would like to learn more about the Adam L. Thompson Foundation, click here.
Click here to find out how to get CPR and AED training.