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The Acomporas celebrate a year of Hope
Karen and John Acompora were at Port Jeff Bowl last Sunday for Hope Reindl’s “re-birthday” party – a celebration of the one-year anniversary of the teen’s averted sudden cardiac death.
Reindl, a Comsewogue High School senior, last year had collapsed during an intramural basketball game and stopped breathing for six minutes. Her life was saved by coaches Rick Miekley and Justin Seifert, who used an automatic external defibrillator (stored just outside the school’s gymnasium) to revive Reindl. Hope, a member of Comsewogue’s bowling team last winter, celebrated her 18th birthday in April.
The Acomporas lost their son, Louis, in March 2000 when the 14-year-old was struck in the chest by a lacrosse ball during his first game as a member of Northport’s varsity team. The blow caused an abnormal heart rhythm and he was without oxygen for 12 minutes. It’s believed Louis’ life could have been saved had a defibrillator been nearby.
John and Karen formed the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, which has campaigned to raise awareness about heart conditions in youngsters and has donated over 400 AEDs to schools. Louis’ passing also led to legislation that required all public buildings and parks in Suffolk County to be equipped with AEDs. According to the Foundation, since Louis’ Law was passed, 60 people have been saved by an on-site defibrillator. Reindl was the 56th.
“We’re very honored and proud,” Karen Acompora said. “It makes our hearts swell to see Hope and be part of her celebration. Hope and her family have been proactive since her survival; they’ve paid it forward.”
The Reindls have helped raise money for the foundation and Hope often wears rubber bands inscribed with the #56 and “AEDs GIVE UP US HOPE.”
John Acompora said that nothing can ease the pain of losing a child and enduring “the worst possible thing you can experience in life,” but the family does take solace in the impact Louis’ story has made.
“It certainly doesn’t make it any easier,” John said, “but to see the survivors, we know that he didn’t die in vain. We know that something positive has come from it and that this is Louis’ legacy.”
Thousands of people have reached out to them and the foundation has raised “a couple million dollars,” Karen Acompora said. “To do that takes a lot of people,” she said. “We don’t have tremendous corporate sponsorship. It’s mostly small businesses and individuals – people who have children and can relate. We really are fortunate to have had so many people support us.”
The Acomporas now are championing the “CPR in Schools” bill. The legislation, which has been discussed by Assembly and State committees, would require all high schools to provide CPR training for students and faculty.
“We’d like for every child that graduates from a New York school to know how to do CPR,” Karen Acompora said. “We’re really hoping that gets passed.”