Vail Valley Scenery: Kickball to kickstart hearts |

Vail Valley Scenery: Kickball to kickstart hearts

The team from Eagle Valley Glass and Mirror
Carolyn Pope | Special to the Daily |

A sunny Saturday and kickball; who could ask for more?

This past weekend was the 14th year of the Evans Chaffee Kickball Classic, and 10 teams rallied their heartiest and aggressive players to compete for charity. The players started off with a filling breakfast of homemade pancakes from an old family recipe of Andy Halminski, then hit the field.

Benefit for Starting Hearts

Each year, Evans Chaffee selects a local organization to be the beneficiary of the event. They look for lesser known organizations with low overhead, and prefer to direct their money to the women and children of Eagle County. This year, Starting Hearts was selected as the recipient. Starting Hearts is the product of a near-death experience. Back in 2007, Lynn Blake was a newlywed working at the Vail Valley Partnership. On Valentine’s Day, she headed to work and her heart stopped. Fortunately, Sue Froeschle was on hand and knew CPR, and the Vail Fire Department was less than a block away.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops abruptly. There are no symptoms,” explained Blake. “It’s the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s often not reportable because an autopsy may not find anything.”

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Victims of sudden cardiac arrest are often not those whom you might identify with a heart attack. They may be slim, fit and young. Oftentimes, the victims are those who push themselves in athletic endeavors.

In 2010, Blake began Starting Hearts. After devoting several years to the organization, she hired Alan Himelfarb as executive director.

Their most visible marketing tool is the brightly painted bus, known affectionately known as the “HeartRod.” It’s a mobile training unit that can be driven to schools, businesses, community events or just about anywhere. The decommissioned transit bus has been converted to a CPR and AED classroom on wheels, which makes learning CPR accessible to just about anyone, anywhere.

“Currently, there are 100 defibrillators in the valley,” said Blake. “We’d like to see another 300.”

For $2,500, locals can adopt a defibrillator for five years. The organization is working on an affordable monthly rental plan, too. There’s also a cool app, Pulsepoint, which anyone with a smart phone can download and, if there is an emergency close by, a reverse 911 call will notify the user and give them the location of both the victim and the closest defibrillator.

The organization’s website,, offers information on their programs, as well as a map of all the defibrillators in the valley. On Aug. 28, they are offering a certification course on CPR and AED use at their office in Avon. The cost is $40, and it might just save a life. To participate in next year’s Kickball Classic or apply to be their nonprofit receipient, send an email to

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