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Family’s Heartfelt Story of a Dad and Husband Saved by CPR Drives Home the Tarrant County Heart Ball’s Vital Mission

Not Just Another Fundraiser

BY // 05.20.22

The Tarrant County Heart Ball raised more than $107,000 to help fulfill the American Heart Association’s mission of helping area residents live longer, healthier lives. Heart Ball co-chairs Jennifer and Kyle Riggs have personally experienced how CPR can be truly life saving. And they welcomed guests to the annual black-tie event held inside Fort Worth’s historic The Ashton Depot with a mission.

As with many supporters of The American Heart Association, the Riggs’ passion stems from personal experience. It was in August of 2019, that a then 36-year-old Kyle Riggs experienced chest pains. His wife Jen did what most of us would do. She grabbed her cellphone and started researching his symptoms, as their family of four headed to celebrate one of their kids’ upcoming first day of kindergarten.

Jen urged Kyle to take an aspirin, so Kyle dashed into the drug store to get a bottle. Jen and their two kids waited. And they waited. When a fire truck arrived with lights flashing, they ran inside the store. Jen saw Kyle collapsed on the floor with a flurry of activity surrounding him.

“Luckily for us, a neighbor dad was shopping, knew CPR and took over,” Jen Riggs says in retelling the story.

Heart – The American Heart Association of Tarrant County held its annual Heart Ball at The Ashton Depot on April 23.
The American Heart Association of Tarrant County held its annual Heart Ball at The Ashton Depot.

Every year, 475,000 people die from cardiac arrest in the United States, and CPR training can reduce that number. The American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care, or ECC, trains more than 23 million people around the globe annually, educating health care providers, caregivers and the public on how to respond to cardiac arrest and other emergencies like the one the Riggs’ experienced.

“CPR is the only reason I had the chance to make it to the hospital,” Kyle Riggs says.

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Fittingly, proceeds from the Tarrant County Heart Ball are dedicated to the American Heart Association’s CPR training and other life saving programs.

As chairs of the Heart Ball, the Riggs family wanted to promote the importance of CPR training and increase the number of people trained. An artery blockage caused the dramatic event that could have become a catastrophe for this North Texas family. But thanks to the CPR training of his neighbor, after six days in the ICU of a Fort Worth hospital, Kyle Riggs is now able to enjoy exercising six times a week, family vacations and seeing his kids celebrate birthdays.

“By supporting such programs, the Tarrant County Heart Ball has been a long standing tradition in Tarrant County,” says Jason Morton, the American Heart Association staff partner for the event. “The community directly benefits from the generosity of our patrons and sponsors who made it such a raging success this year.”

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