Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation Installs 4th AED at The Mission
by James Coulter
A local non-profit organization dedicated to supporting local EMTs and raising heart health awareness installed its fourth automated external defibrillator (AED) at The Mission in Winter Haven.
Melanie Brown Culpepper and several other volunteers from Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation visited The Mission, a food pantry and homeless outreach center in Winter Haven, to deliver and set up the AED.
Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation has installed four AEDs in the Winter Haven community. The other three had been set up at Melanie’s Cutting Edge Salon, Old Man Frank’s, and Winter Haven Boxing.
David Berry, Executive Director of The Mission, appreciated being the fourth recipient of an AED within the local community. He expects the device to come into good use in an emergency.
“It feels amazing,” Berry said. “Doing what we do with the population center of our homeless, having the ability to provide emergency medical services when needed brings a lot of peace of mind to us.”
Melanie Brown Culpepper started her non-profit organization a year ago following the untimely death of her late fiancée, Michael Culpepper. He had suffered and died from cardiac arrest despite the best efforts of paramedics.
Melanie has hosted various fundraisers within the past year, from races to pool and fishing tournaments, to raise money for scholarships for local EMTs and AEDs such as the one she and her team installed at The Mission.
Berry has worked alongside Melanie at The Mission for many years. As a long-time friend, he considers it inspiring that Melanie was able to take a personal tragedy and turn it around into something to help others.
“It is amazing,” he said. “To be able to go through something and turn it around to use it as a tool to give back to your community…the fact she can do this for her community is priceless.”
Eric Shimkus, an engineer, firefighter, and paramedic from the Winter Haven Fire Department, helped install the AED. One of the paramedics who responded to Michael’s call, he has been assisting Melanie with her efforts since she started.
“I think it is a great thing for Melanie to do with her foundation [by] giving AEDs to the community,” he said. “I have been there helping her get the AEDS up and make the public aware of CPR…to use my knowledge and spread the awareness to the community.”