Tina Charles: Hope of a Heart Shines in Brooklyn

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New York Liberty center Tina Charles knows about loss. It was back in March of 2013 that her aunt Maureen “Hopey” Vaz passed due to multiple organ failure. In addition, the story of Wes Leonard’s death on the court of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) ignited something in her soul.

“Sometimes in life you have to lose in order to gain,” said Charles. What Charles is hoping to gain is a bigger distribution of Automatic External Defibrillators (AED).

It was a cold and bitter morning surrounding the Cunningham Middle School, in Brooklyn, yet there was warmth inside the auditorium followed by the gymnasium, where 500 students were greeted by Charles, along with Liberty Legends Theresa Weatherspoon and Kym Hampton. The effort and heart that Charles brings to this naturally attracted Theresa and Kym to help.

“My reason for caring for Tina is because she cares for others and she makes it that visable in so many ways,” Weatherspoon exclaimed.  Kym Hampton agreed. “Tina is a great person and anything I can do to help steer a positive lifestyle to young people, I’m honored to do it.”

The fact that  383,000 out of hospital sudden cardiac arrests a year is the leading cause of death in the United States, many of them kids stands as an excellent reason to move to action.

At four stations about injury prevention, one could see real change in a single setting. Watching Tina take part of a simulated  concussion drill , walking in a line with a scuba goggles or Weathersppon overseeing exercise sessions were done with great enthusiasm.

“Their having fun, learning, thats the key,” Theresa explained. “They take something away from what they’re gathering today.”

Charles added, “This opportunity here, I never had this. For wanting to raise awareness, for preventing injury to kids, having a concussion station, AED’s, knowing how to use CPR, points of Hydration, even one about acute injury station, these are all very important.”

Through her foundation “Hopey’s Heart” this day teaming with “Safe Kids Worldwide” Tina is hoping to  use her celebrity to get a message across.

“No one can stop God’s Plan, what God’s will is for your life,” Tina said. “It shows that basketball is what we do, not what we are. We’re human, and people, we like to invest in others, to make the next person better.”

Kym Hampton looking at the enthusiasm among the kids brought back memories of her playing days and the lack of role models in women’s sports. “When I started, women’s basketball was not popular, no pro league, we had no one to look up to. I know how impactful it is now.”

In the end its about keeping kids safe and ensuring they live a long life, armed with the knowledge to keep their bodies fueled with healthy products.

“To be able to save a life, thats amazing to give to our kids at a young age, to be a part of it is a no brainer,” Weatherspoon shared.

“Loss is an opportunity to learn, what we can do better, to educate and wake us up,” Hampton added.

“My spiritual gift is to give, to do it in abundance,” Tina exclaimed.

In 2015, Charles hopes to place as many AED’s out to schools. “We want to put out 180 this year, if we can exceed that,  it would be a blessing.”