GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- State leaders and the American Heart Association are recognizing HEARTSafe Schools in Michigan.
Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids was among the first of 40 schools that made the list.
A HEARTSafe School has a plan and equipment in place to help students and staff in the case of a sudden cardiac emergency. Between 1999 and 2009, more than 3,000 people under the age of 39 died of sudden cardiac arrest.
Fennville basketball star Wes Leonard, 16, died in 2011 of an enlarged heart. His mother, Jocelyn Leonard, was at Innovation Central High School Tuesday morning as the school was recognized. She says the foundations all came together because of a common tragedy:
"Our children all died of sudden cardiac arrest, three at school," she says, "and they didn't have AEDs. We all know our kids could have lived if our schools had been prepared."
Fennville elementary, middle and high schools are now among Michigan's HEARTSafe Schools. The list also includes Kent Career Technical Center, Kent Transition Center and Kent Vocational Options in Grand Rapids.
The recognition of the first Michigan HEARTSafe schools is an effort to reduce the number of sudden cardiac death in young people.