EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – He is known for making big plays on the field, but just two years before cornerback Denzel Ward was drafted to the Cleveland Browns, tragedy struck.
"It happened with me and my family life and for you guys to hopefully prevent that from happening in someone else's life," Denzel said.
Denzel, along with his mom Nicole Ward, are talking about the day beloved father and husband Paul Ward died of cardiac arrest while taking a spin class in May of 2016. There was an untouched defibrillator just 32 steps from where he collapsed.
"But no one, neither a trained professional nor bystander were willing to take the initiative to use it," Nicole said.
Nicole and Denzel shared their story Wednesday inside a packed Euclid High School auditorium, stressing how knowing CPR can change lives. They drove the message home by gifting students and faculty 2 CPR training kits, through Ward’s foundation called, Make Them Know Your Name or MTKYK.
"The younger you are, the more impressionable you are, so I think that if we can get to the younger students as my son had said, that we would be able to make a difference for generations to come,” said Nicole Ward.
The program is providing schools with CPR and AED training through red kids and is empowering students to learn core skills of CPR in under 30-minutes.
Denzel adds, "These are the future, these kids, so just starting at a young age, getting a CPR and AED kit in front of them and them taking the initiative learning how to use it. I feel it's gonna go a long way."
Shelley Webber with the American Heart Association says, "80% of cardiac arrest happens outside of a hospital setting so when you think about that, who do you spend most of your time with, it's your loved ones, it's your co-workers."
Learning CPR and how to use an AED kit is also a high school graduation requirement.
Back in 2016, Ohio became the 33rd state to pass legislation encouraging CPR training for all students.