Pevs Protects: Rich Peverley gives back

After having his life saved through the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) in March 2014, former Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley has launched Pevs Protects in his hometown of Guelph, Ontario in hopes of saving more lives.

Steph Coratti, —

Pevs Protects Night is on Feb. 26 as the Guelph Storm host the Kitchener Rangers. Fans attending are encouraged to wear red.  

Since playing eight seasons in the National Hockey League, there’s one change to what Rich Peverley now looks for when first walking into an arena.

“I look for an AED (Automated External Defibrillator),” the former Dallas Stars’ centre said. “It’s the first thing I do when I walk into a building since going through my situation.”

That situation is referring to March 10, 2014 – a Monday night match-up between the Dallas Stars and the Columbus Blue Jackets. During the game, Peverley suffered a cardiac incident that led to his collapse on the bench.

It was eventually decided that the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion, dressing for the Boston Bruins for three seasons prior to being traded to Dallas in the summer of 2013, would have to walk away from playing the game, officially retiring in 2015 due to his heart condition.

“I tried to continue to play hockey, I exhausted every avenue,” Peverley, who currently serves as the Dallas Stars Player Development Coordinator, explained. “It just wasn’t in the cards.” 

Looking to move forward, Peverley and his wife Nathalie started with the idea of simply trying to give back. 

“Once I knew I couldn’t play anymore, it was very important to try to give back to our community in Guelph and the community in Dallas, to everybody who helped out,” Peverley said of the first steps taken outside of the game, adding that a small relationship developed with the American Heart Association to start, giving tickets to Stars’ games to people who had gone through similar situations.

“We got to know more and more people, and we thought it would be a great idea to find a way to help save people’s lives, just the way my life was saved through an AED.”

Now, less than a year after announcing his retirement, Peverley is spearheading the Pevs Protects initiative, launching based out of his hometown of Guelph, Ontario, partnering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to raise awareness and funds for AED purchases and CPR training in the city of Guelph.

Peverley has also partnered with the Guelph Storm to host a Pevs Protects Night on Feb. 26 when the Storm play the Kitchener Rangers to raise both awareness and funds.

The initiative includes an online auction on featuring NHL jerseys signed from various players around the league that will go live prior to the Storm versus Rangers game on Feb. 26, and end seven days later (complete list of items can be found below). On the night of the game, fans are also being encouraged to wear red to show their support.

“We just started this whole initiative and a lot of people are very motivated, just like us, to continue to get more AED’s out there,” Peverley explained, while also focusing on the importance of education and training surrounding the issue. “The heart is a very complicated muscle and cardiac arrest can happen suddenly. The only way to prepare yourself is to have an AED and to know how to use it.”

“That’s the only way you’re going to save someone’s life.”

Maintaining that goal from day one, Peverley knows the hockey community, spanning from the Dallas Stars to the Guelph Storm and all the individuals in between, is to be thanked for the progress made in such a short time with Pevs Protects. 

“For example, I didn’t play in the Ontario Hockey League,” Peverley, who was drafted by the Mississauga Steelheads in the sixth round but chose to play NCAA hockey with St. Lawrence University, explained. “But Mike Kelly, Matt Newby… the whole Storm organization has been great to give me the time and trying to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish.” 

Meanwhile, with the two-year anniversary approaching of that life-altering day on March 10, Peverley is more than aware of the path that has led him to this point.

“There’s been a lot of thinking,” he said. “A lot of time and effort in trying to figure out exactly what was next.” 

Now, with the first Pevs Protects Night set for this coming Friday, Peverley is hoping that time and effort translates into one very important thing. 

“Maybe after going through Friday night, people will walk into a building and see where an AED is,” Peverley explained. “It starts with one community, our community, moving into another community in Ontario and then the US.” 

“My life was saved with an AED – we hope that there’s other lives that can be saved as well.”

Up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada, which equates to one every 13 minutes. The majority (up to 85%) of cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals, in public places, or in homes. Current survival rates are very low as it is estimated that only 5% of Canadians survive a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital. Fast CPR and AED use within the first minutes doubles the chance of survival which is why awareness and education around this important topic is crucial. 

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s mission is to prevent disease, save lives, and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day.

‘Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.’

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