Baumhower: The Final ExamWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb. 14 was Save the Beat and I am still blown away by the love and support of this community. With unpredicted and perfectly timed terrible weather — over 200 people came out and are now versed in saving a life.
Save the Beat was a success, although it’s origin was created out selfishness.
After learning of Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins’ health condition Feb. 1, I was sad. Really sad. I was sad for the city I was born in and for the family of a great man. By Feb. 3, I needed to change my attention and look for something positive to focus on. While some of you applauded the effort behind the planning, it was my way of dealing with a sudden loss.
The only bright thing coming from that Sunday’s darkness, was the story of the good Samaritans, Andra Crisp and Evelyn Johnson.
Toledo Fire & Rescue Department’s Nikki Zmijewski, a CPR trainer, and her co-workers always wanted to do a major event where hundreds of people would learn how to save a life at once. With her enthusiasm, and the full support of the City of Toledo, Save the Beat was born.
The name, Save the Beat, is an homage to Collins’ years with the Toledo Police Department and as president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association.
Timing was important; picking the right day was crucial. With Feb. 14 — on a Saturday, 10 days away — made for a perfect but ambitious date. But ambitious also means focused. Trying to put an event together, in such a short time, would allow my brain to think about something other than my friend, fighting for his life.
I fell in love with the thought of people learning how to “save a heart” on Valentine’s Day.
There is something beautiful about this city after an unexpected event. We come together, with our chests leading the way.
Every phone call I made, every request for support, financial or otherwise, was answered with a “Yes.” ProMedica and the people at SMG, who manage the Huntington Center and SeaGate Convention Centre, provided a home for this vision. UAW Local 2213 made sure we had everything else. The William Swade All State Agency made sure we had the proper insurance and Jupmode made sure our 100-plus volunteers had T-shirts. My friend Paul Spoerl of the Entertainment Network donated his time and equipment and provided the soundtrack for the day.
In just 10 days, Save the Beat was created, planned and executed.
There was another major reason why I wanted to throw this large CPR event. Save the Beat would create a slight media diversion that would give local TV, radio and print some content, while allowing space for the Collins family to be together. It took some of the focus off DMC’s health and put it toward CPR education and preparedness. It was a way to rally the city behind the heroes of the day, while allowing those crushed a few extra inches to breathe.
It gave Toledoans a course of action, to accompany our prayers.
Save the Beat’s media support was beyond amazing. Toledo Free Press made it their cover story in less than a day’s notice. iHeartMedia’s general manager, Kellie Holeman, in a two-minute phone call, vowed the full support of her radio stations and delivered. Toledo News Now, 13abc and NBC 24 all assigned reporters and introduced the event’s concept to their viewing audiences. The Blade’s Marlene Harris-Taylor made it a feature story.
Some much-needed space for the Collins’ clan was in fact given.
Zmijewski rallied the CPR training community. She made it a regional collaboration, with trainers and dummies coming from as far as Ann Arbor. In total we had over 100 CPR trainers and 120 mannequins, but it was the volunteers’ excitement and passion that made for a celebratory day.
This event would have never happened if not for the support of Toledo City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb. She made sure all the proper city departments were aware of what was happening, including our new mayor.
Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson surprised us by making an appearance. She wanted to see and feel the love that was filling the SeaGate Centre. Her energy was upbeat, and inspired; it matched those around her. Hicks-Hudson addressed the crowd: “Let’s make sure that we do everything that we can, be helpful toward one another, extend ourselves to one another… so that we can make this a compassionate community.”
Of all the scenarios we thought of and prepared for, bad weather wasn’t ever discussed. But a little after 10 a.m., Mother Nature reminded us where we live. A snowstorm popped up, creating white-out conditions around the time our morning session was ending. Our second session was scheduled to begin at 11. It was devastating. I knew it would prevent people from coming and it did.
But the weather didn’t stop two very special visitors.
On Feb. 12, the day of their dad’s funeral, Mike’s daughters un-expectantly messaged me on Facebook. They told me the Collins family was aware of Save the Beat and planned on coming. I knew if they came, the impact on every person in attendance would be permanent.
We had 54 brave people brave the elements to make our second session, and two of them were the daughters of D. Michael Collins. They were there to support the cause, express their gratefulness to everyone in the room, including Crisp and Johnson.
I presented Mike’s daughters with TOL DMC shirts, letters from the Navarre Elementary student body and staff and an opportunity to speak. They had not spoken publicly since their father’s passing, and when they did, there wasn’t a wasted word.
With Laurie Collins-Mulligan by her side, Kelly Collins-Sheridan spoke: “On behalf of my family, we’d like to say thank you to each and every one of you, for coming out today, on Valentine’s Day, in the snow, to learn how to save a life. … We are truly appreciative of all of you, for the compassion that you have shown our family, for your prayers and for the way you’ve reached out. We know by being here that Toledo truly cares and it’s comforting.”
When they walked offstage, Laurie asked us if one of the CPR trainers could give her husband and her, a refresher course. We did.
Kelly Collins-Sheridan was already certified.
I think Mike Collins was testing our resolve and had a hand in that unpredicted snow. He wanted to see which Toledoans would show up and learn CPR, even in white-out conditions. I’m sure he had the biggest grin in Heaven, as he watched his daughter Laurie, and 50 others, learn how to save a life.
Another test from above, and another pass.
It seems “The Professor’ wanted to give his city, a final exam.
Jeremy Baumhower can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jeremytheproduc.