Having taken yesterday off after a busy day at work and a softball double-header, Hockey Blog In Canada returns today to outline another charitable organization. As we've seen in the past articles, NHL players have been affected by their family members' afflictions and diseases, and have started charities and organizations to help them with their battles. Today's organization was started because of the player's affliction. Czech-born defenceman Jiri Fischer of the Detroit Red Wings collapsed on the bench during a game against the Nashville Predators. After doctors saved the young man's life, Fischer went on to found Healthy Hope: The Jiri Fischer Foundation, and HBIC is proud to profile this organization today.
Mission Statement: The Healthy Hope Mission page doesn't really give this organization its due credit, so here's a little more. The Healthy Hope Foundation helps people who need help. They are "a group of [v]olunteers, who have been through some [l]ife threatening times". The foundation's volunteers provide those who are facing adversity a chance to rediscover their passion for life by assisting them in their battles. Giving up does not exist at the Healthy Hope Foundation.
How Did Healthy Hope Start?: For this, we need to go back to Novermber 21, 2005 when Mr. Fischer collapsed on the Detroit bench in Nashville.
Out of this experience, Mr. Fischer started the Healthy Hope Foundation in early 2007 to help others in their most trying times. However, the organization has now branched out to encourage CPR training, and for arenas to acquire and learn to use Automated External Defibrillators (AED).
The CPR+AED program has taken Mr. Fischer to a number of cities in order to bring awareness to these two life-saving techniques. He has worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Canada to help make AEDs as accessible as fire extinguishers in public buildings.
"Until the sudden cardiac arrest, hockey was first, everything else was second," said Fischer in Calgary in 2007. "This is the first time in my life I can be part of something bigger than hockey."
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, "[a]pproximately 40,000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada every year, and for every minute that passes without help, a victim’s chance of surviving drops by about 10 per cent. Brain death starts to occur 4 to 6 minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest if no CPR and defibrillation occur during that time. Ultimately, less than 5% of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive, largely because CPR is not performed at all – or not started soon enough".
Fischer was one of the lucky ones as his heartbeat started up again after being unconscious for six minutes on the bench.
"I get up every day, and I live," he said in 2005 to Larry Lage of the Associated Press. "Everybody says you should live to the fullest, but what is it? No one knows until you come so close that you're not worried about anything else but being alive."
Thankfully, Mr. Fischer is still with us today. He works with the Red Wings organization in the capacity of player development, and the Red Wings, in a classy move, have even kept his locker intact in the dressing room. He even returned to the ice on February 28, 2008 in the "Shocks and Saves" charity game in Saginaw, Michigan. The charity game helps to raise funds for the Healthy Hope Foundation's initiative to place Automated External Defibrillators in Michigan schools and arenas.
How Can I Help?: First and foremost, Healthy Hope wants you to share your Survivor Story. Your story will help others in their fight to hang on to their hope in the face of adversity. They would also like you to share your passion and your ideas. You can contact the Healthy Hope Foundation at info-at-healthyhope-dot-org. They can be reached by telelphone at (248) 635-1082. And you can also write them via snail mail by sending your letters to:
PO Box 702310
The Healthy Hope Foundation is also looking for volunteers. If you'd like to volunteer with the organization, please email them for volunteer opportunities.
Healthy Hope, the NHLPA, and Jiri Fischer are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!