The third annual Darius Jones Foundation 5K run/walk is more than a fundraiser for a good cause; it is a chance to learn how to save a life in a cardiac emergency.

The event commemorates the death of Jones, a De La Salle High School student who suffered cardiac arrest playing youth basketball, and is set for Oct. 13, at Martinez Regional Shoreline Park.

"It is such a beautiful location," said Pam Dodson of HeartSafe Community. "It is not a hard walk and it is just gorgeous."

When 15 year-old Jones collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest during a basketball game in October 2009, his mother did not know that health screening could have revealed that he had a problem.

"We would have had a big decision to make -- stop playing basketball, the love of his life, or continue to play knowing the potential," Beverly Bradley said.

Nor was she aware of emergency treatments that may have made the difference between life and death for him.

"When he collapsed to the floor, everyone froze. We were not sure what to do. I lost my son that day," she recalls. "I did not want Darius' death to be in vain and I wanted to understand why it happened and not let it happen to another child."

De La Salle coach Frank Allocco helped Bradley found the nonprofit Darius Jones Foundation to educate players, coaches, referees, youth leaders and parents in all athletic leagues on the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the need to have AEDs (portable defibrillators) accessible at all sites where athletic events are planned, organized and held, and medical pre-screening.


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Since that October afternoon, the Darius Jones Foundation has been able to place more than 30 AEDs and trained more than 10,000 people in CPR directly and through community partners.

"The chance that someone there (at a cardiac arrest) could save a life has increased from 25 to 41 percent since 2009," Dodson said. "If someone steps up and pushes hard and fast in the middle of the chest, they double that person's chance of survival."

Through HeartSafe, Dodson is a pre-hospital care coordinator for Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services.

The recent increase in public knowledge of CPR and the use of an AED has improved chances of surviving a cardiac arrest, she said.

"We want people to know the signs and act in time," Dodson said. "(Beverly Bradley) follows my mission. We partner to get the word out."

Another partner is the American Medical Response, which provides 911 response services for Contra Costa County, which will be at the walk teaching the proper use of an AED. There will also be some hands-on practice for the public using a mannequin.

"It is not intimidating at all," said Iris Villegas, AMR outreach coordinator. "Anyone can learn how to use it."

Mayor Rob Schroder, a representative of Supervisor Federal Glover and a Contra Costa Fire Department crew and more will be on hand for the foundation walk/run.

Foundation CPR and AED training will continue while plans proceed to sponsor a multicounty effort to provide screening for causes of sudden cardiac death in young athletes before they participate in sports.

"When I think of all the young athletes who play a sport I cannot help but get tears in my eyes knowing that the facilities where they play may not be safe, that the equipment -- an AED -- needed to save them may not be available," Bradley said.

"A recent study performed at Stanford University demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of such a program and found the cost in terms of dollars per life-year saved equal to those of other screening programs such as breast screening programs," she explained.

Reach Dana Guzzetti at dguzzetti10@gmail.com or call 925-202-9292.

If you go
To register for the third annual Darius Jones 5K Run/Walk, held from 8 a.m.-noon Oct. 13, call 925-473-1283 or visit www.dariusjonesfoundation.org. Opening ceremony is 9-9:30 a.m., with the run/walk beginning at 9:30 a.m.