Bolt for the Heart 5k puts lifesaving AEDs in La Porte County police cars

By: Curtis Hankins Last Updated: September 8, 2019

Runners, walkers, and people from all around the Region gathered on Sunday for Bolt for the Heart 5K Family Run/Walk in Michigan City. Presented by Franciscan Health and in partnership with Bolt for the Heart and the Play for Jake Foundation, the event raised funds to purchase lifesaving Automated External Defibrillators (AED) for police vehicles.

Bolt for the Heart is based out of Carmel and hosts a handful of races each year. Their ultimate goal is to equip 100 percent of police cars in Indiana with AEDs. These devices help resuscitate people suffering from a sudden heart attack, letting first responders take immediate action to save lives. All funds raised during Sunday’s race are staying within LaPorte County with the goal of providing as many as 150 AEDs to police departments around the area.

“This is huge, it ties in really well with our mission to promote health and wellness,” said Dean Mazzoni, President and CEO of Franciscan Health Michigan City. “The whole idea behind putting AEDs in every police vehicle is that law enforcement officers are usually the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency, and when you’re having cardiac arrest, every second counts. These can help save someone’s life.”

Franciscan Health Bolt for the Heart Family 5K 2019

Franciscan Health Bolt for the Heart Family 5K 2019 86 Photos
Franciscan Health Bolt for the Heart Family 5K 2019Franciscan Health Bolt for the Heart Family 5K 2019Franciscan Health Bolt for the Heart Family 5K 2019Franciscan Health Bolt for the Heart Family 5K 2019

According to Bolt for the Heart and IU Health, 335,000 people are killed by sudden cardiac arrest each year. Each minute after sudden cardiac arrest without CPR and an AED decreases the chances of survival by seven to 10 percent. According to the American Heart Association, more than 40,000 lives per year could be saved if the first person on the scene knew CPR and applied an AED within 5 minutes.

“Law enforcement officers are typically the first to respond in those types of situations since their cars are moving and they’re mobile,” said Pierre Twer, President of Bolt for the Heart. “EMS do a great job, but they’re parked in a garage and have to be dispatched. We’ve found that within 2 to 3 minutes, a police officer can be at the scene. If they have an AED, they can go ahead and save someone’s life.”

Many LaPorte residents are familiar with the story of Jake West, a La Porte High School football player who died in 2013 after suffering sudden cardiac arrest during football practice. His mother, Julie Schroeder, founded the Play for Jake Foundation to educate parents and youths about the dangers of undetected heart conditions and prevent lives from being lost to sudden cardiac arrest in any way possible. Seeing over 200 people turn out to the Bolt for the Heart 5k left her proud of her son’s ongoing legacy.

“This gets me up every day, it really does,” Schroeder said. “It gets my feet on the ground and pushes me to do whatever I can to help prevent what happened to our family from happening to others. It’s my life now, it’s what I do.”

Dr. David Fumo, President of the Medical Staff at Franciscan Health Michigan City, donated the first AED of the event to the county sheriff right before the race.

“We think that this program of having AEDs in all the vehicles is amazing, and really important for our community,” Fumo said. “We’ll definitely save lives, no doubt about it.”

To learn more about Franciscan Health, visit For more information about Bolt for the Heart, check out For everything about the Play for Jake Foundation, visit