HARTFORD — Larry and Evelyn Pontbriant have made it their mission to ensure athletic fields and schools have quick access to portable life-saving defibrillator equipment.
The Norwich couple’s drive to do so has its roots in a decade-old tragedy involving their son, Larry. Their efforts since then have resulted in almost 100 such devices being made available, with more on the way.
It also earned the couple this year’s Community Hero Award from the American Red Cross Connecticut Chapter. The Red Cross presented it to them Thursday during its 18th annual Connecticut Heroes Luncheon in Hartford.
In August 2007, 15-year-old Larry died while preparing for a fun run at Mohegan Park.
He was a special kid, his parents said. An intelligent kid with a nice personality, Larry was very active in sports, starting when he was very young at the Norwich YMCA.
“He was doing archery, soccer, wall-climbing, whatever he could get his hands on,” Evelyn said.
The night of the fun run, Larry was training for a trial with the Norwich Free Academy soccer team, his dad said.
“He was a dual athlete, he played soccer and lacrosse, and ran indoor track in the winter to stay in shape,” he said.
Young Larry collapsed after running the first loop and suffered cardiac arrest. Three days later, he died.
Soon after the NFA student’s death, his parents started the Larry Pontbriant Athletic Safety Fund, which seeks to spread awareness that sudden cardiac arrest can occur without warning to anyone, anytime, anywhere, even to well-conditioned athletes.
The time-frame between onset of cardiac arrest and the…
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