In Loving Memory of Jon Derynda
Cardiac on Campus was founded in 2015 following the untimely death of Jon Derynda. Jon was the brother of co-founder, Brittany Derynda, and the cousin of co-founder, Jessie Miller. Jon had no previous medical conditions and was a healthy, active 20 year old. On June 13th, 2015 Jon was planning to complete the Rock N’ Sole Half Marathon in Milwaukee, WI with his family and friends. After training for several weeks, Jon felt strong on the race course but unexpectedly suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while crossing the finish line. He was quickly intercepted by paramedics stationed at the finish line and rushed to the ambulance where he was shocked back to life by an AED. Following his arrival at the hospital, Jon suffered another cardiac arrest and ultimately passed away. The combination of quick interventions by paramedics and AED intervention saved Jon’s life on the way to the hospital and bought him a few precious moments for his father to see him alive a final time.
Jon was a passionate man with an electric smile that lit up every room. His legacy lives on in many beautiful ways, one being Cardiac on Campus. Following Jon’s passing, Jessie Miller and Brittany Derynda channeled their grief into creating Cardiac on Campus, a non-profit organization in Madison, WI that promotes heart health awareness. They wanted to intentionally reach out to younger individuals who do not normally view themselves as at-risk of sudden cardiac death. The organization started small and quickly grew, offering free CPR certification courses, placing AEDs in UW Madison dorm buildings, and establishing an annual 5K walk/run to promote the organization.
Since its founding, Cardiac on Campus has placed over 10 AEDs, CPR certified over 1,600 individuals, and performed preventative ECG screenings on over 260 UW-Madison students and community members. Cardiac on Campus strives to continue advocating for heart health awareness while forming lasting connections with like-minded organizations and families. The loss of a young individual like Jon, who was ripe with potential and dreams as a young man, highlights the immediate importance of preventing sudden cardiac arrests in those who have undiagnosed cardiac conditions and risk factors. Together, we can work to save the lives of young people.
Written by Brittany Derynda and Jessica Miller
Cardiac on Campus works to promote awareness of cardiac health and increase accessibility of cardiac health care. The organization's three main initiatives are hosting free CPR/AED certification classes, donating AEDs to campus buildings, and covering the cost of electrocardiogram (ECG) screenings at our ECG drives. All initiatives bring us closer to our goal of eradicating sudden cardiac death.