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Park District Introduces CPR Training Initiative

CPR First Aid

This year at PrairieFest the Oswegoland Park District has begun Main Stage Moments. The idea is that people are given the festival’s main stage to reveal life-changing news in front of thousands. In news that didn’t disappoint, the first Main Stage Moment might be the one to change the most lives.

At Friday’s Main Stage Moment, Vest announced a multi-year initiative aptly called Hero Training: Be Someone’s Heart Throb. Through the generous financial support of $8,125.00, by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, and the in-kind program support of the American Heart Association, the Oswegoland Park District will increase the bystander rate of CPR through PrairieFest and community events over the course of the next year.

Representatives of the American Heart Association and the Oswego Fire Protection District were on hand to present the American HeartSaver Hero Award to a surprised Darice Bohne and Ariana Castillo. Both award recipients are Oswego residents who stepped in to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) which saved the life of two strangers.

In January of 2015, 16 year old Ariana Castillo was playing indoor softball when Jim Dirksen, a baseball coach collapsed at a nearby practice. Using the information she had learned through her classes at Oswego East High School, Castillo stepped in and performed CPR until the Oswego Emergency Medical Team arrived. Jim called Friday’s Main Stage Moment, “ a wonderful and deserving honor for my favorite hometown hero”. It was fitting that Jim was unable to attend Friday night, because thanks to Ariana, the coach and his son will be participating in a weekend baseball tournament.

Honoring Darice Bohne had a unique significance at PrairieFest. At last year’s festival, staffer Cheryl Keilson had what is called a sudden cardiac death at the main entrance. Staff was able to alert Oswego EMT on the grounds. Bohne, a coronary intensive care nurse had been enjoying a concert when her husband convinced her to head home. She was mere feet from the main gate when she saw a crowd had gathered. Her work, along with the Oswego Police and Fire support saved Cheryl’s life. Against all odds, Cheryl and Darice stood together on PrairieFest’s main stage Friday night.

The miraculous incident on the grounds last year proved to be a catalyst for Oswegoland Park District staff. Festival organizer Kristie Vest said, “When we planned for PrairieFest 2016, we felt compelled to “pay it forward”. The truth is, education and training saved Cheryl. We want to be a part of more people being aware, educated, and trained.”

The American Heart Association reports that almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

The festival, and subsequent community trainings will use CPR Anytime kits, an American Heart Association program to teach CPR ‘on the fly’. CPR kits with dummy busts will be handed out for training. Community members can take the kits home, and become a teacher for friends, family and other community members. Hands-only CPR training all takes place in less than 30 minutes. After bestowing the HeartSaver Hero award on Castillo and Bohne during PrairieFest the Main Stage Moment, Mark Ziemnik, Oswegoland Park District CPR and First Aid instructor, immediately demonstrated lifesaving hands-only CPR from the main stage area with a bystander—made possible, by the generous support of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley. “The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley is able to provide this grant because of the generosity of many individuals, all of who care deeply about our community and the residents who live here. It is partnerships like these, between the Foundation, American Heart Association and Oswegoland Park District, which are changing people’s lives every day. We are honored to be a part of this life saving community initiative,” said Jeff Hartman, President & CEO, Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.

This ongoing training series “Be Someone’s Heart Throb” training sessions will take place throughout the year at various community events and is already planned for next year’s PrairieFest 2017 in the First National Bank Event Tent. In fact, by May 2017, the Park District has a goal to train over 300 people.

Vest said, “With Hero Training, PrairieFest will be the model in Northern Illinois of festivals who take on both celebration and significance. CPR training and awareness will have a prevailing affect in Oswego and our surrounding communities. But that is the big picture; the small picture is one life. Our efforts have the real ability to reach out far enough to save one life. The staff here at the Oswegoland Park District knows distinctly what that means to the people who love that life. For Jim who is spending the day pitching to his sons and for Cheryl and those of us who love her, the small picture is quite big.”

About the Oswegoland Park District The Oswegoland Park District is a governmental agency responsible for acquiring, developing, and maintaining natural areas, parks, and leisure time facilities for area residents. The District also plans, develops and implements a wide range of recreational programs and activities that reflect the interests of all age groups in the Oswegoland community.

About the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley is a non-profit, tax exempt, philanthropic organization that administers individual charitable funds from which grants and scholarships are distributed to benefit the citizens of the Greater Aurora Area, the TriCities and Kendall County, Illinois. For more information, please visit

About the American Heart Association The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – two of the leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is one of the world’s oldest and largest voluntary organizations dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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