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The Lake Wales Ball Park AED Was Stolen. This Local Organization Replaced It by Donating a New One!

The Lake Wales Ball Park AED Was Stolen. This Local Organization Replaced It by Donating a New One!

by James Coulter

After an automated external defibrillator was stolen following a robbery at the Lake Wales Ball Park concession stand, the stolen AED was replaced with a new one through a generous donation by a local organization.

Lake Wales Ball Park received a new AED donated by the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of heart health by assisting local EMTs and other first responders and donating AEDs throughout Polk County.

This AED was the 14th donated by Melanie Brown Culpepper and her team of volunteers through the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation. She had donated countless other AEDs throughout the county at various other local establishments and businesses.

Melanie was contacted by Lora Donely, a local teacher who volunteers for the Lake Wales Softball Team, and Stephanie Stroud Witt, who informed her about two recent break-ins to the ballpark concession stand which led to the theft of the AED. The stolen AED has been purchased from proceeds raised over six months, Melanie explained.

“That is why I am here today, to replace it at the ball field,” Melanie said. “It feels amazing. It is heartfelt. I feel like the more I put out, we can save people, and it makes me happy to do that. I have been doing this for two years. It is my drive to help others [that inspires me to continue], and hopefully, one day, it can make a difference and that we can save someone who needs it.”

Alicia Bird, Vice President of Operations at the ball park, commended Melanie for her donation. That she was able to replace an expensive piece of life-saving equipment after it had been stolen is nothing short of a blessing, she said.

“It feels wonderful,” she said. “We are excited. We are proud to receive this donation. I believe it will be very beneficial in case someone needs it, and everyone at the ballpark is trained as far as AED. I believe Melanie is wonderful and giving and we are proud to have received one of their donations.”

Melanie appeared at the ballpark on Thursday to donate the AED. Joining her was Brian Beilke, a volunteer and her fiancée, Eric Shimcus, a Winter Haven EMT and paramedic, and several members of the Daily Ridge team, including Carl and Shelly Fish and Kip Kirchberg, who also serves as a volunteer for the Lake Wales Softball Team.

“It feels awesome to have an AED in place at the ballpark because we have so many kids and families coming down here and enjoying the festivities going on,” Kirchberg said. “Having one of these AEDs on site can potentially save a parent or child’s life. It is a true blessing.”

Melanie serves as a sales representative for Daily Ridge, and has worked alongside him in her many endeavors within the community. Kirchberg is proud to have her on the team and for all the hard work she had done to make her local community a better place.

“We are very thankful that Melanie Brown has the fire and energy to continue this legacy and this journey,” he said. “Daily Ridge feels blessed to be a part of it. And even more thankful she is extending this opportunity to the other communities just like she is here in Lake Wales. So, we thank her for all her efforts, and we will continue to support her into the future.”

Melanie Brown started Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation two year ago following the tragic passing of her late fiancée, Michael Culpepper, who passed away from cardiac arrest. Since then, she has raised enough proceeds to fund several scholarships for EMT and fire rescue students and donate several AEDs throughout Polk County.

Eric Shimcus, the paramedic and EMT who was on-site during Culpepper’s emergency, has been involved with the organization since its inception. He has more than 22 years of experience working with Winter Haven Fire Rescue. He appreciates these donations because utilizing AEDs during a cardiac arrest will increase a patient’s survival rate by 20 percent, he said.

“It feels really good,” he said. “We are spanning out from the City of Winter Haven. It is nice to get out of the city to another city and have an AED donated.”

For more information about Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation, visit their website at: https://honoringculpepper.com/

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