The New York Liberty’s Tina Charles will again donate half of her WNBA salary to Hopey’s Heart, the foundation she established in honor of her beloved aunt, Maureen “Hopey” Vaz, who died of multiple organ failure in 2013, the Associated Press reports. According to the foundation’s website, “Hopey was known for having a very giving heart and when her own heart failed it was a tragic loss to her family and an eye-opener to Charles.”
“It means a lot just to keep the awareness out there about sudden cardiac arrest,” the pro basketball star told AP. “Taking an interest in others is key in my life. It’s my way of giving back.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA, is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops. Most people die within minutes. But immediate treatment with an automated external defibrillator can prevent death. The device sends an electric shock to the heart to regain normal function.
In recent years, Charles has purchased 142 of the defibrillators. For a second consecutive season, she will spend about $50,000 of her salary to buy more of the lifesaving devices. Her foundation is expanding into Europe, where all EuroLeague Women arenas will be required to have an AED available next season. Charles, who played in Turkey last winter, influenced the passage of that rule.
In addition to education and CPR training, Hopey’s Heart Foundation provides AEDs to schools and community recreation centers. The foundation is committed to preventing SCA from claiming other student-athletes like Wes Leonard. He was a high school basketball player who died in 2011 of SCA after making a game-winning shot.