Walden alumnus Katie Patel stands outside of Lennard High School as she prepares to Mobilize for Good and donate several AEDs to save lives.

By Karin Davis-Thompson

It was a normal day, perfect for baseball. Katie Patel, a cardiac nurse, was watching a team play as she waited for her son’s game to start. The Lennard High School pitcher, Patrick Plunkett Jr., threw a pitch.

“The batter hit a hard line drive straight back at him,” Patel said. “He (Patrick) didn’t have any time to react. The ball hit him in the chest, causing him to go into sudden cardiac arrest.”

Patel and several other parents, coaches and staff ran to Patrick. They got him on his back and checked for a pulse—there wasn’t one.

“I started doing chest compressions,” Patel said. “There was another nurse there supporting his neck and airway. I just kept doing chest compressions to keep his circulation going.”

Patel, a graduate of Walden University, said she couldn’t believe what was happening.

“But my instincts kicked in quickly,” she said. “After that, I was just on auto pilot doing what I’ve done hundreds of times when I worked in the emergency department.”

Fast forward more than two years later. She still keeps in touch with Patrick through social media and an exchange of Christmas cards. But the experience always stuck with her.

Then, in honor of Walden’s 50th anniversary, the school decided to sponsor Walden’s Mobilize for Good program.

After receiving an email with information about the initiative, Patel thought about that day in 2017 and decided to request a donation of an AED (automated external defibrillator) for the field. Although the school has several other AEDs, she said, with the size of the campus, having one on the field would be a real benefit.

The university donated five AEDs to Lennard and provided CPR training for teachers, coaches, staff and students.

Walter McCollum, Walden’s dean of student affairs, said working with the school’s alumni to celebrate 50 years of educational excellence by giving back was a natural fit.

“Throughout Walden University’s 50-year history, countless students, alumni, faculty and staff have made a real difference in their professions,” McCollum said. “Their passions combined with their commitment to social change define the very best of Walden.”

The school’s Mobilize for Good Initiative is working with 15 alumni in five cities throughout the United States.