Extraordinary seniors: Hope Reindl
GalleriesMeet 15 of LI's extraordinary grads 2012 high school graduations around Long Island Meet Long Island's 2012 valedictorians
Nothing gets in the way of Hope Reindl.
The avid athlete took a rare, near-fatal cardiac event and turned it into an opportunity to inspire others and unite her high school.
In May 2011, Reindl had a heart attack and collapsed on the court at Comsewogue High School during an intramural basketball game.
The otherwise healthy athlete survived, thanks in part to her coaches, Justin Seifert and Rick Miekley, and the school's AED (automated external defibrillator). She now lives with a pacemaker.
The incident was life-altering. Reindl, 18, had dreams of playing college softball but was suddenly told she couldn't play any contact sports.
She was crushed, but the game was not over.
"I hate losing, but I'm not going to be a sore loser," said Reindl, of Port Jefferson Station.
So she channeled her determination into giving back to the organization she believes saved her life, the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, named after a Northport lacrosse player who died in 2000 during his first high school game.
The group promotes awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and successfully lobbied to require all schools in New York State to have an AED in their buildings and at athletic competitions.
"I wanted to give back and try to save another life," Reindl said.
She rallied her friends and they raised more than $5,000 over the past year for the foundation -- enough to buy five AEDs for athletic programs that could not afford them.
They sold bracelets that read "AEDs give us HOPE" and organized a wiffle-ball tournament called "Hits for Hope," among other things.
Reindl also spent the past year focusing on her other talents. One of the high points of her year was leading her varsity bowling team to league championships. She had a high score this year of 234.
And she also spent more time on her other passion -- photography. Reindl expanded her skills and became an editor for the high school's MSG Varsity organization.
She plans to attend Suffolk County Community College to study visual arts and photography. When the time comes, she is looking forward to transferring to SUNY New Paltz for a bachelor's degree.
Reindl wants to pursue a career in nature photography, which would include yet another of her passions -- camping and hiking. Her dream is to work for National Geographic or a similar magazine.
Her guidance counselor, Brenda Bell, has no doubt Reindl will achieve great heights. She described Reindl as a strong and passionate person who "embraces every moment of her life."
"She has shown the strength of her heart in many capacities," Bell said.