Tina Charles, Hopey’s Heart Foundation save a life in Texas

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 4: Tina Charles
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 4: Tina Charles /

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On July 13, an AED unit donated by New York Liberty forward Tina Charles’ foundation saved the life of Dan Carlson in Austin, Texas. According to a piece by Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports, Carlson went into sudden cardiac arrest at Marbridge Foundation community center where he works as a landscaper.

Charles founded Hopey’s Heart Foundation in 2013 the month after losing her beloved aunt, Maureen “Hopey” Vaz, to multiple organ failure.The organization works to prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) from claiming the lives of people like Wes Leonard, who died of SCA at the end of his basketball game in March 2011. Had Wes been near an  Automated External Defibrillator or AED machine, their lives might have been saved.

Driven by her aunt’s kind spirit and Wes Leonard’s unnecessary death, Charles set out to ensure schools and rural areas around the country have access to AED machines. Since, Hopey’s Heart Foundation has placed 293 AEDs in schools and community centers across the world, including the one at Marbridge Foundation. Carlson is the first person aided by one of the machines Charles donated.

One AED unit costs anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500. Since 2013, Charles has donated a portion of her WNBA salary to the foundation. This season, she has dedicated her entire salary to the foundation. According to a WNBA salary database put together by The Summitt, Charles’ salary donation will be $105,000 this year.

Charles is also committed to teaching communities how to use AED machines. “You go through a fire drill, and you go through the protocol. Same thing when you have an AED,” Charles told Yahoo! Sports.

For that reason, she holds Hopey’s Week annually to educate communities about heart health and AED machines. This year, Hopey’s Heart Foundation partnered with NYU Langone Medical Center and Safe Kids Worldwide for four sports safety clinics throughout New York City borough.

“Seeing all of these kids learn what sudden cardiac arrest is, that they know where the AED is in their school, in an emergency to start with calling 911 and performing CPR, means the world to me,” said Charles in the event media release.  “This is knowledge they can pass on to their friends, their family, and pay it forward.”

This year, all the fundraising, awareness and personal investment by Charles paid off in the biggest way possible. The 2012 WNBA MVP looks forward to meeting Dan in-person, “I’ll be flushed with emotions,” she told Yahoo! Sports.


This story was updated to reflect the price of an AED unit at a price between $1,200 and $1,500.

The New York Liberty surprised Charles with a visit from Carlson after practice