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KEVS Foundation

A Life's Work

July 11, 2011, marks a day of tragedy for Susan Canning. Her 19 year old son Kevin Major was involved in a devastating accident on Congamond Lake that took his life. Initially thought to be a drowning, it was later discovered that Kevin actually died from cardiac arrest. He had a condition called “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy” (HCM). 

Born on April 8, 1992, Kevin started playing hockey at the age of three. He was incredibly active across multiple sports, and yet he never showed any symptoms of having this condition. According to the Center for Disease Control, 5,000 young people between 15 and 34 years of age die annually from “Sudden Cardiac Arrest." The leading cause of death is HCM, an abnormally enlarged heart muscle.

After Kevin’s passing, Susan Canning and family found themselves in a tailspin. They had no idea that Kevin suffered from this condition. To counteract their grief with action, Susan founded the KEVS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non profit, in February 2012.

The KEVS Foundation's mission is to have lifesaving equipment (AEDs) in locations where kids play and spend time. Their mission is also to CPR certify any adult in charge of children. In addition, the KEVs Foundation sponsors cardiac screenings for young people in our community. 

Susan and team have donated close to 300 AEDs across the community, including emergency boxes with 24 hour access in public locations. One such emergency box is at the Pickle Ball Park in Westfield. No sooner was the box installed this spring, than it was needed to help save the life of a gentleman who suffered from a cardiac event.

Susan Canning shares, “Local people can help by taking the time to learn CPR. Take an hour and learn. I’ve always said that God has given us life saving tools - our two hands..”

As mom, Susan has also spearheaded changes in state laws passed by the government. Her first bill passed in 2014, requiring high schools to CPR certify their coaches. Another bill that she helped pass requires school districts to have an AED in every building and at every event.

Their largest fundraiser is the Memorial Hockey Tournament being held on August 13th. This includes a silent auction. Each year they usually have between 20-25 teams participate. Their fundraising goal is to raise $15-20,000. The silent auction starts on August 13th and ends Sunday August 15th at noon.

“I’m grateful. This community has been so generous and so supportive over the last ten years. I get emotional thinking about it. I look back at this tragedy and how much we’ve been able to give back to the community. It really does take a village.”