By Amelia Pak-Harvey
AYER -- The girls of the Cardiac Quest Youth Venture team have donated another lifesaving automated external defibrillator, or AED, to their community.
Seventh-graders Alana Miska, Allie Cebollero and Jackie Stiles gathered at Benjamin Hill Pool at Shirley to present an AED for the Wilde Road Soccer Fields. They have raised more than $3,000 so far and have already placed one at the Dale Prentiss Field in Shirley.
The project is part of the United Way Youth Venture program offered at Ayer Shirley Middle School. Students spend time in the classroom identifying real-world problems, then brainstorming possible solutions.
AEDs can help kick-start a heart during cardiac arrest, and can cost about $1,000 each.
"We had heard stories of kids dying from cardiac arrest and we thought it was really sad," Cebollero said of why they chose to help.
Although Stiles has moved to school in Groton, the girls continue with their goals. They are hoping to purchase two more, and have almost enough money to buy a third one.
The girls raised the funds by holding bake sales, raffles and selling ice cream at the Shirley Hoe Down.
Keith Begun, of Ayer Shirley Youth Soccer and the Shirley Recreation Commission, said the device gives them the opportunity to save the life, not only of a player, but of a spectator.
"Ayer Shirley Youth Soccer and Shirley Recreation greatly appreciate not only the fact that we now have an AED at the field to protect our players, but the efforts that were made by these young ladies to accomplish this and get the AED down there," he said.
When it's needed, he said, it's incredibly important.
"We're looking forward to having everyone properly trained so we know how to use it, and we hope we never have to," he said. "But we're glad to have it and we thank them very much for their efforts."