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Tournament continues to raise heart awareness

Date: 8/1/2014

WESTFIELD – The memory of a local teen, Kevin J. Major, continues to inspire area residents to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and the importance of using CPR to treat those afflicted with cardiac issues.
Major, died at 19 on July 11, 2011, in the Middle Pond of Congamond Lakes in Southwick, from SCA due to an undiagnosed condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart.
“If I stop, I think [about the loss], so I don’t stop,” Susan Canning, Major’s mother and director of the Sports Foundation, said. “I still cry. Every day I think about him.”
The Amelia Park Ice Arena, 21 South Broad St., will host the 4th Annual Kevin J. Major Hockey Tournament on Aug. 2, 3, 8 and 10. The event will benefit the Kevin J. Major Youth Sports Foundation and KEVS Foundation.
The tournament will feature 26 teams. The divisions include the Old Boys Division, Social Division and the Pro Division, featuring area junior and college players from throughout the area. Teams will compete for the Kev Cup Championship Trophy.
In addition to hockey, there will be raffles and a silent auction. On Aug. 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the KEVS Foundation, in conjunction with Noble Hospital, will be hosting a free CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) Awareness event, where the community can learn the hands-only CPR.
“The event has absolutely grown by leaps and bounds. It’s extremely exciting to hear his family, friends and the community talking about it – they discuss it all year long. I’ve met incredible people all over. They’re so supportive. I know this is what he’d want,” Canning said.
To date, the Sports Foundation has hosted 13 free heart screenings for youth, donated 14 AEDs to surrounding cities and towns and has trained more than 2,700 western Massachusetts students in hands-only CPR.
KEVS Foundation has enabled youth from the area to attend sports camps and clinics for sports of their choice. Canning explained that the amounts of the scholarships vary by need and the cost is paid directly to the hosting organization. Most recently, the foundation sent three students from the inner city to Canada to wrestle in a championship. One of the students brought home a silver medal.
Canning is also supporting an effort to pass Senate Bill 1918, which states, “All coaches shall have a current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation from the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or other agency or organization approved by the department of public health. This requirement shall not apply to a coach with a physical disability. A school district that hires a coach under this section shall not be responsible for costs associated with the certification.”
The bill was read for a second time on July 14. The third and final reading to pass the bill has yet to be scheduled.
“You have to get knee deep in this to see it through. It’s because of the people of the Commonwealth making those phone calls [that the bill was moved out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee],” Canning stated.
In October 2013, Canning was invited by the Boston Bruins to share her story with an audience of 500 youth coaches at the Boston Bruins Coaching Symposium. She said the attendees were touched by her story and understood the importance of having CPR/AED training.
She said that Major’s older brother Sean Major is studying to become a paramedic after being inspired by the loss of Kevin. He is currently a certified CPR instructor and recently passed his EMT exam.
“It’s changed our family [and] really given us a mission. We want to prevent any other family or mother from losing their little boy,” Canning commented.
For more information about the foundations, visit and To track the progress of the Senate bill, go to