Wes Leonard Heart Team, American Red Cross hold 6th annual memorial blood drive

During the blood drive, the Heart Team presented a new AED to Black River Public Schools.

FENNVILLE, MICH. - The American Red Cross, the Wes Leonard Heart Team and the Fennville community have come together for the 6th annual Wes Leonard Memorial Blood Drive. 

Wes Leonard was a Fennville High School senior who passed away unexpectedly in 2011 on the basketball court after making the game-winning shot that sent his school to the State Regional playoffs. 

Doctors determined that Leonard suffered from arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a heart disease that causes genetic defects of the heart muscle where the cells link together. It is a common cause of sudden cardiac death.

When Leonard collapsed on the court, there was a defibrillator that could have potentially saved his life 50-feet away -- but it didn't have a working battery. 

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To honor Leonard and educate the importance of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), a blood drive is held in his honor. The Heart Team also donates AEDs to local schools and public spaces that need them -- this year alone the Heart Team has donated 60 of them.

The Heart Team is an organization founded by Leonard's mother, Jocelyn, to lobby for changes in AED legislation, awareness, action plans and implementation of AED practice drills, along with Sudden Cardiac Awareness and CPR/AED training. 

During the blood drive on Saturday, June 3, the Heart Team presented a new AED to Black River Public Schools in Holland at a special presentation.

The blood drive was held at Fennville Middle School and all who donated received free, commemorative "In Honor of Wes Leonard" t-shirts. 

For more information about Wes Leonard's story and the Heart Team, visit their website.

For more information about donating blood through American Red Cross, visit their website here. 

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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