By Leslie Nicholson —
When Kristy and Bob Brindley relocated to Sonoma four years ago, they saw new opportunities to help save lives in Sonoma Valley through their foundation. They are the founders of Just1Mike, a nonprofit organization that honors the memory of their son, Mike.
Mike was the youngest of the couple’s three sons. He was 16 when he died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in 2016 while playing basketball. The family was living near Chicago at the time and in 2017 they founded the nonprofit.
“Mike’s dream was to be a sportscaster and writer. Just1Mike was the name of his blog. We wanted to honor him by naming our foundation after something that he started at age 13,” explains Kristy Brindley.
The foundation’s first initiative was to fund and support cardiac screenings for teenagers at Mike’s high school. The screenings detect 70% of hidden heart conditions that put people at risk for SCA, she says. “We screened 1,900 students and by the end of that day 13 students were referred for heart issues that they would otherwise not have known about.”
A resource that Brindley encourages parents to use for information about Sudden Cardiac Arrest is Parent Heart Watch . The website lists statistics for SCA including that one in every 300 students has an undetected heart issue, up to 72% of SCA victims had at least one warning sign that was not recognized, and 49% of SCA cases have a significant family heart history.
“People don’t realize how common SCA is among our student athletes,” explains Brindley. “SCA is the #1 cause of death in student athletes ages 12 to 25 and the #1 cause of death on school campuses in America.”
A move from Chicago to Palo Alto created the opportunity for the Brindleys to connect with the founders of the Kyle J. Taylor Foundation in San Jose, a non-profit founded after the cardiac death of the Taylor’s teenage son.
Through their foundation, the Brindleys were able to help sponsor seven EKG screenings that the Taylor Foundation held in San Jose and other South Bay locations. Recently, Just1Mike granted money to the Taylor Foundation to purchase a Philips Lumify portable echo wand to offer further testing at heart screenings if someone needs it. Brindley hopes to offer a heart screening event in Sonoma in the near future.
As newer Sonoma residents, Kristy and Bob Brindley would take walks near the high school and talk about donating Automated External Defibrillators (AED) to the school when the new sports complex and pool were under construction. Their first AED donation was an outdoor cabinet for the youth football and cheer program in the town near Chicago where they raised their three children.
“We knew that the sports complex at the high school would need an AED machine. During an event for the Sonoma Valley Educational Foundation we talked about our organization and by the end of the evening we had raised enough money for our first AED machine donation in Sonoma Valley,” says Brindley. “Since then we have raised funds for three more at the high school. One wll be installed at the new pool as well as Golton Hall and Pfeiffer Gymnasium. Having an AED outdoors and near the basketball courts was something that was near and dear to our hearts.”
The first AED was installed next to the outdoor basketball courts in February of this year. Just a few months later that AED was used to save the life of a 2022 Sonoma High graduate (see page 2).
Four more AEDs have been received by the Sonoma Valley Boys & Girls Club and will be installed at school sites for their after-school programs. Four more are being delivered soon.
“Our donation program covers the maintenance costs for the AEDs. They will be managed and monitored to assure that they are ready to use when needed,” explains Brindley. “These AEDs are state-of-the-art and when the cabinet is opened by someone they are programmed to alert local emergency medical services that there is an emergency. The machines are easy to use and include an audio recording that gives clear instructions on how to use the AED. The towers also include lights that make the machines very visible. Anyone in need of an AED can access the machines 24/7.”
Brindley wants to make sure people know that there is no liability to someone who administers CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) or an AED to shock someone’s heart to get it to restart.
“There are Good Samaritan Laws in every state and the Federal Government that protect anyone who administers live-saving procedures,” explains Brindley. “By doing nothing, that person will die. You are their only hope.”
AEDs are now installed at all district schools, and some stores, wineries, and public places such as Vintage House and Sonoma Community Center. To make accessing this information easy, the Sonoma Valley Fire Department has uploaded it to the Pulsepoint App. If your business has an AED that you would like registered and added to the Pulsepoint App, please contact the Sonoma Valley Fire Department at 707-996-2102.
There will be a public dedication of the new AED at the basketball court in late August. Brindley says that more details will be announced soon.
More information about Just1Mike and their work to prevent SCA, and to sponsor screening events and AED donations, is available on the foundation’s website, www.just1mike.org. If you are interested in a CPR class that covers CPR and AEDs, please contact the Sonoma Valley Fire Department at 707-996-2102 to find out how you can register to take a class.
AED locations in Sonoma Valley, partial list:
Adele Harrison Middle School
Altimira Middle School
Benziger Family Wines
B.R. Cohen Winery
Bronco Wine Co
Bouverie Wildflower Preserve
Caliente Springs Physical Therapy
CCL Industries, Inc
Conestoga Rovers & Associates
Creekside High School
Dunbar Elementary School
El Verano Elementary School
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
Flowery Elementary School
Freixenet Sonoma Caves
Hacienda Wine Cellars
Hamel Family Wines
Harlan Estate Winery
Idell Family Vineyards
Kimberly Quan Hubenette Dental Office
Pacific Union Co
Parkpoint Health Club
Prestwood Elementary School
Price Family Vineyards
Sassarini Elementary School
Schug Carneros Estate Winery
Sonoma City Hall
Sonoma City Public Works
Sonoma Charter School
Sonoma Community Center
Sonoma Ecology Center
Sonoma Garden Park
Sonoma Valley High School
Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau
Sonoma Police Department
Treasury Wine Estates
Woodland Star Charter School