Student athlete raises money to put defibrillators in schools

Robert Harrison, 15, left, sells a bracelet to Max Houtris at Grand Junction High School. The fundraiser benefits Harrison’s service project, which is to install an automatic electron defibrillator in every high school in the Grand Valley. He needs to raise more than $76,000.

Robert Harrison, a 15-year-old freshman at Grand Junction High School, hopes that he’ll leave a legacy at his school that one day helps save a life.

There have been reports across the nation about high school athletes whose hearts have stopped during practice. Those lives could have been saved if a simple device to restart the heart had been available on campus, Harrison said.

His goal is to have an automatic electron defibrillator, or AED, device on every high school campus in the Grand Valley by the start of next football season. An AED is a portable electronic device that uses electrical therapy to stop arrhythmia, which allows the heart to re-establish a normal beating pattern. It’s an important piece of life-saving equipment that is not available at most schools, Harrison said.

He calls his project From the Heart, For the Heart.

“I just think this is really important,” Harrison said while selling red bracelets to his classmates Thursday morning.

“My short-term goal was to get one for Junction,” he said while explaining that he plays basketball and track. The practices in his sports can be intense, he says, and he’d hate to have something happen to him or one of his classmates and not be able to respond.

Harrison started raising money for the project six weeks ago as part of his service learning hours, which are required for graduation at Grand Junction High. Every student at the school must adopt a community enrichment project that teaches the value of actively participating and improving the lives of those around them.

He launched http://www.fromthe and began collecting donations and seeking business partnerships to get the project completed.

Harrison said his long-term goal is to get an AED device into each School District 51 middle school by March 1, and into every elementary school by Aug. 15.

Each AED unit, plus user training for teachers, costs $2,000. To be successful in his project, he’ll need to raise more than $76,000.

So far, Harrison has raised enough money to buy one device for GJHS. He’ll be selling $2 bracelets at JUCO’s annual nonprofit day June 2. Direct donations can be mailed to any area high school earmarked From the Heart, For the Heart, or by using the donate button available on the website.


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