Rouse Rally benefits from Gwyneth’s gift | Local News


Two organizations will combine fun and even silly activities next week to raise money for something serious.

The Rappahannock YMCA will host the “Rouse Rally,” a one-day event featuring pickleball and tennis tournaments, food, beer trucks and music on Saturday, June 25 at the Massad County branch in Stafford. While players of all ages compete in tennis matches, pickleball teams of two people aged 90 or over will use strong wooden or plastic paddles to hit a different type of ball onto the net.

All money raised during the rally will go to Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation, a non-profit organization in Fredericksburg that strives to keep people alive, on and off the courts. The group is named after Gwyneth Griffin, a girl from Stafford County who suffered a cardiac arrest in 2012, shortly before her 13th birthday. She died several months later after being deprived of oxygen for too long before CPR could be administered.

His parents, Joel and Jennifer Griffin, started the foundation to raise awareness of the importance of knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and being able to use automated external defibrillators when a person’s heart stops beating after a sudden cardiac arrest.

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Any parent can imagine “the pain they went through,” said Charlotte Rouse, wife of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Jeff Rouse.

Both are friends of the Griffins and supporters of the Y, and she also sits on the board of Gwyneth’s Gift, calling it “one of the causes closest to my heart.” She worked with Rappahannock Area YMCA CEO Barney Reiley to organize the rally in hopes the proceeds will help more people know what to do in an emergency.

The Griffins worked diligently after their daughter’s death to prevent others from experiencing the same grief. In 2015, the General Assembly had passed Gwyneth’s Law which made AEDs mandatory in all schools, mandatory manual CPR training for all public school teachers, and manual CPR training for all high school students.

The aim is to provide lifesaving measures to people whose heart suddenly stops beating following cardiac arrest. To date, the group has trained nearly 15,000 people, placed 87 AEDs in public spaces in the Fredericksburg area and saved seven lives, according to the Gwyneth’s Gift website.

A testimonial from a community member, posted on the website, describes one person’s reaction when a man suffered cardiac arrest. The person asked two men to help bring the victim to the ground, asked one to call 911, and began chest compressions. When first responders arrived, they asked how the person knew all of this and were told, “Because of the Gwyneth Gift Foundation.”

Reiley’s life was saved in 2010 by Y staff who used an AED after her heart stopped beating. He had been exercising on a stairmaster and suddenly stopped, and his doctor later said the sudden stop caused a few pieces of plaque to loosen and cause a “cardiac event”.

While Reiley didn’t have the clogged arteries sometimes present in such cases, the resulting stroke produced the same result, he said.

“Let me tell you, I wouldn’t talk to you if the staff weren’t trained and we didn’t have this AED,” he said.

Reiley said there has been a lot of interest in the tournaments and the rally, which start at 10 a.m. and continue into the evening. Anyone can participate or attend, whether they are a member of the Y or not. More information on registration and fees is available on the YMCA website.

Gwyneth’s Gift spokeswoman Emily Ripka said the group was happy to be associated with the rally, as community events are part of the mission to create a “culture of action” where people are educated, confident and empowered to save lives.

“Not only does this type of event promote health and wellness, it brings members of our community together,” Ripka said.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

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