U.P. Pink Power hosting walk to raise funds

MARQUETTE – Don’t ever make the mistake of associating the color pink with weakness.

The annual 17-mile “fun-raising walk” sponsored by U.P. Pink Power will take place beginning at 10 a.m. April 16 at Tall Timber grocery in Gwinn and finishing at Gary’s Knotty Pine bar in Arnold.

Pledge money raised during the lengthy walk will be used for a good cause: to purchase automated external defibrillators, which are portable devices used to check the rhythm and send an electric shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm.

Dawn Lambert is involved with the event, along with Laurie Van Damme, Sally Searle, Jackie Hart, Carrie Miller and Pat Makela, a group whose goal is to “pay it forward” to those in need and letting them know they are not alone.

Lambert estimated between 200 and 250 walkers participated in the 2015 event, with approximately $25,000 raised. Also, money always is set aside for replacement batteries for the AEDs that already have been placed in the area.

The goal this year, Lambert said, is to purchase 20 AEDs, which is how many were purchased last year. If this goal is reached, Lambert said about 70 to 80 AEDs will be out in the community courtesy of U.P. Pink Power.

The need is there.

“They’re costly,” Lambert said, “and we have these municipalities, like the fire departments and the police departments, that contact us for help getting an AED for their units.”

Not only first responders use them. The portable devices, she said, can come in handy in far-flung places.

“Like, the Knotty Pine is out of the way,” Lambert said, “so if somebody happened to be out in that area and went down, it’s going to take the ambulance a long time to get there.”

U.P. Pink has a huge list, she said, of places that need them, including the Humboldt Township Fire Department and places with lots of activity like churches and businesses.

Jim Carlisle, former fire chief and current volunteer with that fire department, said an AED would be useful for situations like dealing with heart attacks.

“Definitely, it would come in handy for all of us,” Carlisle said.

Lambert said that after entities are chosen to receive AEDs, they are distributed on the first Sunday in May. One person from each recipient group must attend a short class during which the proper way to use the device is taught.

“Remember, they will not shock somebody until that person needs to be shocked,” Lambert said. “So, let’s say you go down, somebody grabs an AED and puts it on you, it’s going to walk you right through everything and it’s not going to shock you unless you’re actually in arrhythmia.”

The Good Samaritan law, she pointed out, also gives legal protection to people who use the device in good faith to help others in distress.

Lambert related a story that began about 5 years ago and concerned Tina Hiironen, who is involved in U.P. Pink Power, and her brother Steve. The brother had undergone a heart transplant, and having an AED available could have meant the difference between life and death.

Hiironen, she pointed out, looked into purchasing AEDs, and still is involved by working with a local EMT instructor and Duke LifePoint on placing these units.

Lambert also said that in September 2015, a young man in Menominee was at his cousin’s youth football game with his family and playing with his 2-year-old child, and stopped to text a relative with the game score.

His wife was in the stands and was watching as he set his phone in his daughter’s stroller, and then look up at her and collapsed. After his wife ran over to the man, it was discovered he was unresponsive.

Lambert said it is believed an AED and cardiopulmonary resuscitation saved the man’s life as the only way to get the heart out of that type of arrhythmia is for it to be shocked.

She also mentioned an incident that took place earlier this year at the Knotty Pine where a car accident had occurred nearby. The man had broken his arm, but his adrenaline also was increased. A nurse who happened to be at the Knotty Pine asked if there was an AED on site due to the adrenaline level.

“The more we raise from this event, the more AEDs that can be purchased,” Lambert said.

Interested participants may pre-register at the Up North Lodge in Gwinn and Knotty Pine from 5 to 7 p.m. April 15 or at the Up North Lodge at 8 a,m. the day of the event.

Lunch, drinks and snacks will be provided during and after the walk along with aid and entertainment from support vehicles.

Anyone interested in walking may contact Laurie Van Damme at 360-0032 for Team Pink Power or Tina Hiironen at 238-4305 for Team Knotty Pine, email uppinkpower@gmail.com or visit U.P. Pink Power on Facebook.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.