Two local families who lost their children to heart-related deaths are hosting fundraisers this month in hopes of saving others from a similar fate.
They are the parents of Michael Fisher, a 15-year-old Dennis Township resident who died as a result of a heart defect in 2010, and Jennifer Ann Ward, a 29-year-old Seaville woman who died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2005.
Fisher's parents, Justina and Daniel Nees, will host their second annual Michael Fisher Foundation Run/Walk in Sea Isle City this Saturday, Sept. 22, to raise money to benefit heart-related medical research. The first Michael Fisher Foundation Walk/Run was held on the first anniversary of Fisher's death, Sept. 24.
This year's walk will be held a few days prior to the two-year anniversary.
Daniel Nees said the family has chosen to walk this day in hopes that other families won't have to walk in their footsteps.
"No one should go through what we've gone through," he said.
Michael was born with an enlarged membrane in the sub aortic region of his heart and was diagnosed with the defect at age 4, Nees said. He collapsed during roller hockey practice and died soon after.
The proceeds of the Walk/Run will benefit the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, to further medical research, and to The Michael Fisher Foundation, which will be presenting scholarships to a couple of Cape May County Technical Schools seniors for the first time this May. Michael Fisher was a sophomore at Cape May Tech when he died. This year would he would have been a senior.
On the following Saturday, Sept. 29, The Jennifer Ward Memorial Fund will host its eighth annual fundraiser beef and beer, also in Sea Isle City.
Ward was a resident of Seaville and a teacher at the former St. Ann's Elementary School in Wildwood when she died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2005. Her parents, Gerry and Jerry Ward, formed the The Jennifer Ward Memorial Fund in 2005 to keep her memory alive and to provide public training in CPR and automated external defibrillator, or AED, use and AED donations to the community.
Jennifer Ward was seemingly healthy prior to her death, her mother said. Doctors later told the Wards, had an AED been used on their daughter soon after her collapse, she may have lived. That idea spurred their mission to provide the community with as many AEDs as possible to potentially save lives.
"When we first started doing this, it was a way for us to keep our Jennifer's memory going, but as time goes on it's really become more a mission to cut the number of deaths resulting from sudden cardiac arrest, so other families don't have to suffer like we've suffered," Gerry Ward said. "The more AEDs we put out there, the more lives saved."
To date, the Jennifer Ann Ward Memorial Fund has donated 30 AEDs throughout Cape May County to schools, places of worship, small businesses. athletic fields and Playland's Castaway Cove amusement park on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
An AED costs about $1,200, Gerry said. If 50 people attend the Sept. 29 fundraiser, that would cover the purchase of an AED.
"We really hope people come to support us," Gerry said. "Another AED donated could mean another life saved."
Contact Elisa Lala:
If you go
What: The second annual Michael Fisher Foundation Run/Walk
When: Saturday, Sept. 22. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., kickoff at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Sea Isle City Promenade, Landis Avenue and JFK Boulevard
Cost: $25 with all proceeds benefiting The Michael Fisher Foundation which supports pediatric cardiology research. Register in advance at active.com.
For more information on The Michael Fisher Foundation or to make a donation visit www.michaelfisherfoundation.org or call 609-861-3848.
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What: The eighth annual Jennifer Ann Ward Memorial Fund Fundraiser
When: 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29
Where: The Sandbar outdoor restaurant at the Ocean Drive in Sea isle City, 3915 Landis Ave.
Cost: $25, includes live entertainment by DJ Troy David, a pig roast and beer and wine specials.
To purchase tickets or make a donation, call Gerry Ward 609-602-5394 or Nicole Presnall 609-827-3119.
For more information of The Jennifer Ann Ward Memorial Fund visit jenniferward.org.