Save the Date – 10th Annual Golf Outing!

We are proud to announce the 10th Annual Sean Fisher Memorial Golf Outing Fundraiser has been set for Monday, May 21, 2018 once again at Darlington Golf Course in Mahwah!

So be sure to SAVE THAT DATE and check back here for more details in the coming weeks!


CBS News: ‘All Heart’ Program Aims To Provide Coaches With First Responder Training

WALDWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey family hopes to have all coaches receive first responder training in order to save athletes from cardiac emergencies.

“I couldn’t go through the thought of hearing it happen to any other son or parent,” Jim Fisher told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.

He and his wife, Sheila, talked about the loss of their only child, Sean, who collapsed at football practice and died from an undetected heart ailment. It was his 13th birthday.

“Sean had just gotten a brand new jersey. He was so excited,” coach Ray Jimenez said. “It was horrific. Not just for me, but for all the kids and parents who were there.”

In the nearly 10 years since he’s been gone, the Fishers have put their energy into a foundations in their son’s name, getting cardiac screening in schools. They’ve also been working with New Jersey lawmakers on a proposed bill to have all eighth grade student athletes screened.

“Forgive my tears, but that’s what happens to you when you lose a kid,” Jim said.

Fisher unabashedly shed those tears in front of participants in a new program, called All Heart. It’s designed to bring vital first responder training to the people closest to the action when a kid is on the field – the coaches.

It’s an intensive program teaching CPR and using AEDs, automated external defibrillators.

“All coaches should have this, because the opportunity to save a life is very important,” said Mike O’Neill, the girls program director for the Players Development Academy and class participant. “Every night after this class, I get a text or an email from a coach, saying, ‘thank you very much.’”

“I feel that I’ll be empowered by having this training and being able to be a first responder on any site,” added Gerry McKeown, the boys program director for the PDA.

“Youth athletics in the United States is a $2 billion industry. The cost of training a coach in CPR is around $100,” Dr. Nidhi Kumar said.

Dr. Kumar is a cardiologist who’s helping to spearhead the program.

“It was just about changing the model as to how we respond to these emergencies,” he said. “We can reduce or almost get close to eliminating deaths from sudden cardiac arrest in athletes on the field.”

In addition to the nearly 100 coaches who’ve been trained locally, more than 20 athletic clubs across the country are working to get the same first responder training to their coaches, as well.

Coming up Wednesday at 11 p.m., the story continues with an incredible new chapter. Jim and Sheila Fisher will share an emotional reunion with the paramedic who tried to save their son.



Grieving father is ‘All Heart’ about turning son’s tragic death into life-saving cardiac program

Greg Tufaro, Published 1:12 p.m. ET Jan. 18, 2018

Jim Fisher, whose teenage son, Sean, collapsed and died on a football field after going into sudden cardiac arrest, the result of an undetected heart defect, stood inside Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s state-of-the-art simulation center in New Brunswick.

An easel displaying four oversized color pictures of Sean, who died on his 13th birthday in August 2008, created a heart-touching backdrop as Fisher, a resident of Waldwick in Bergen County, spoke to members of the media about the Sean Fisher Memorial Foundation’s latest mission.

“He’s my inspiration,” Fisher said, glancing over his shoulder at the quadrant of photographs of his only child. “When I get discouraged, I just take a look at a picture of him and say, ‘Get back up there, you’ve got work to do.’ ”

A tough-as-nails union carpenter, Fisher, with tears welling in his eyes, explained that cardiac screenings — providing free ones was initially the primary goal of the foundation established in his son’s name — are not enough to prevent sudden cardiac death in athletes.

According to the American Heart Association, the incidence of such deaths is one in 200,000, but Dr. Nidhi Kumar, a cardiologist and Medical Director of Women’s Health at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, said many experts believe the incidence is greater, making the need for rapid response and the availability of automated external defibrillators paramount.

While state law requires all public and private K through 12 schools in New Jersey to have an AED within reasonable proximity of a gymnasium or athletic field, as well as an emergency action plan for sudden cardiac arrest, no such legislation exists for youth leagues.

Youth leagues are not mandated to have an AED on site and less than 30 percent of youth league coaches are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), according to a Sports & Fitness Industry Association and Aspen Institute report, the results of which appeared in the Washington Post.

Fisher, in concert with the Players Development Academy, a nationally recognized elite soccer club headquartered in Somerset, is trying to change that statistic starting with a grassroots effort in the Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s simulation center, where more than 80 coaches from PDA will receive training in CPR and AED use before the start of the spring season.

The initiative is part of the All Heart program, whose goal is to educate coaches and leaders of youth sports leagues nationwide about the need to be trained to handle a sudden cardiac arrest emergency, which results from an electrical disturbance in the heart that compromises its ability to pump blood to vital organs. Without immediate treatment, through CPR and defibrillation, death ensues.

“We’re bringing the solution right to the field,” said Fisher, his previously somber voice now filled with enthusiasm, revitalized at the prospect of saving lives. “If coaches have the tools and know what to do, we can start CPR and work with the AED, and hopefully nine out of 10 times the kid will survive.”

The day he died

Sean Fisher, who was about to enter eighth grade, collapsed on the field while warming up with his Waldwick recreation football league teammates on Aug. 25, 2008. According to a report in the Star Ledger, a parent certified as an emergency medical technician who was nearby tended to Sean Fisher, pulling off his helmet to find him gasping for air. The EMT administered CPR. Waldwick police and paramedics arrived and used a defibrillator before taking Sean Fisher to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, where the 13-year-old was pronounced dead.

“The reason we designed this program is we realized that if we really wanted to make a difference, we needed to change the model on how we responded to these emergencies,” Kumar said of the All Heart program. “This type of an emergency is an emergency where timing and every second counts. The risk of mortality from a sudden cardiac arrest increases 10 percent every minute without defibrillation, so the thought is that if we train coaches to be first responders, we can address the issue immediately where a coach is in a position to react, respond and save a life.”

In his dual role as Rutgers University’s women’s soccer coach and PDA’s director of girls coaching, Mike O’Neill, a lifelong friend of Fisher, served as the lynchpin between the Sean Fisher Memorial Foundation, PDA, Kumar and Saint Peter’s University Hospital, which previously worked with O’Neill’s players on other community initiatives.

On Wednesday night, three PDA coaches received intensive hands-on CPR and AED training in the Saint Peter’s University Hospital simulation center, where the coaches earned the American Heart Association’s Basic Life Support certification.

Training in the simulation center, which is open to all youth leagues and individual youth sport coaches, costs $100 per coach. Kumar said Saint Peter’s University Hospital does not want the fee to be a deterrent, and is willing to work with youth leagues and individual coaches to ensure they can receive training. Leagues and individual coaches can register for the training session by contacting simulation center coordinator James Spaulding via email ( or phone (732-745-8600, ext. 5185).

O’Neill said PDA, which boasts seven soccer fields at its main complex, and at least five fields at its satellite location, wants all of its coaches to be trained in CPR and AED use and also wants to increase the number of AEDs at its venues.

“If there was anything major that ever happened, we would just rely on EMS,” O’Neill said. “That’s where the big change comes in now. The idea here is we want to pay more attention to sudden cardiac arrest to make sure there’s a national campaign to get all the coaches certified and to make sure that the facilities that they are in are equipped with AED units and to make sure that the coaches are first responders.”

PDA is using its clout as a nationally recognized program to reach out to other clubs across the country, essentially issuing a challenge to adopt the All Heart program. O’Neill said clubs in California, Arizona, Chicago, Michigan, Texas, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Ohio and “all across the country are getting involved in this project with us.”

“If we can make people aware and they get involved in the challenge,” O’Neill said, “then we’ll be able to save a life, and a life lost is one too many.”

Dying unexpectedly

Over the last decade, three teenagers from Middlesex County — Kittim Sherrod of Edison, Brandon James of South Brunswick and Patrick Awosogba of East Brunswick — died after going into sudden cardiac arrest during an athletic activity. All had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the same undetected cardiac defect that claimed Sean Fisher’s life.

None of the student-athletes complained of symptoms such as chest pain, lightheadedness, palpitations or dizziness that are associated with cardiac abnormalities, thus there was no impetus for them to be screened.

“I know there’s been a huge push to have EKG and echocardiograms mandated as screening tools, but the reality is the healthcare dollars won’t support that legislation to ever pass,” Kumar said. “In my opinion, the other thing is that (cardiac screenings) may give people a false sense of security because there are athletes that have cardiac issues that may not be detected by those screening tools. So, the key is how we respond.

“You hear these stories all the time where a perfectly healthy looking athlete goes down in the middle of the field,” Kumar said. “If a defibrillator is present, the chances are that athlete is going to get up and walk off the field. If the defibrillator is not present, that athlete will have a very different outcome and often not make it.”

A basketball player from Colonia who collapsed after going into sudden cardiac arrest on the court during a freshman game at Edison High School two years ago survived through the lifesaving efforts of staff from both high schools who defibrillated the teenager.

State Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., who introduced the bill that was signed into law in 2012 requiring that AEDs be in schools and that districts statewide share information with their students about sudden cardiac death in young athletes, praised Fisher and PDA for their efforts at the youth level.

“My heart goes out to the Fisher family, who are to be complimented on their courage to call attention to this need resulting from the tragic death of their son,” Diegnan said of the All Heart program. “Obviously, the PDA academy is also to be congratulated for wanting to do what’s right to protect our kids.”

Even in his tragic death, Sean Fisher — whose father is determined to inform an entire nation of youth league coaches about the All Heart program — is still making an impact on the lives of others.

“I want to make sure everybody finds out about this,” Fisher said. “I want to prevent as many deaths as possible. We might not catch everybody, but we want to try to catch as many as we can. That’s our goal. I believe (Sean’s death) happened for a reason. I believe he’s sitting up there looking down saying, ‘Go ahead mom and dad, keep doing what you’re doing.’

“Until the day I’m on the other side of the turf and I get to see him again,” Fisher said. “I’m going to keep doing it.”



Central Jersey soccer club inspires to stop sudden cardiac arrest deaths

By Keith Sargeant, NJ Advance Media for

James Fisher arrived for a recent meeting inside the Rutgers University women’s soccer office, greeted Scarlet Knights coach Mike O’Neill with a hug, and pulled out a pamphlet with his son’s picture on it.

“This,” he said, “is therapy for me.”

Click to visit the photo gallery :


Fisher recalled dropping off his son, Sean, for a recreational-league football practice on Aug. 25, 2008. It was Sean’s 13th birthday. Fifteen minutes into warmups, Sean collapsed on the field. He was a victim of an undetected heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

In the 9 1/2 years since the death of his only child, James Fisher has devoted his life to providing free screenings to rising high school freshmen in Bergen County through the Sean Fisher Memorial Foundation.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we had no warning signs whatsoever with Sean.”

Although it’s been nearly a decade since his son’s passing, Fisher struggles to speak about it.

“It’s still very raw for me emotionally,” Fisher said, “but I know it’s an important topic to talk about.”

Last August, a Bronx 14-year old high school football player named Dominick Bess died during a football practice and Fisher was interviewed by a New York television station.

O’Neill, the highly successful coach of the Rutgers women’s soccer program, is a longtime friend of Fisher from their days growing up in Kearny. He saw the video and emailed the link to a Saint Peter’s University Hospital cardiologist who has worked with his Rutgers women’s soccer program on other charitable causes.

In the months that followed, Dr. Nidhi Kumar, the Director of Women’s Health at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, met with a group that included Fisher, O’Neill and two coaches — Gerry McKeown and Thomas Anderson — from a Somerset-based youth soccer club called the Player Development Academy (PDA).

Their meetings centered on the recent sudden-cardiac deaths of scholastic athletes. The result, Kumar said, is an “All Heart” program designed to educate the youth-athletic community on sudden cardiac death in athletes, to improve the safety of players through training coaches in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED), and to raise national awareness in all sports communities.

“The goal is reduce the mortality rate from sudden cardiac deaths in young athletes,” Kumar said. “We feel like this is going to be a game changer in youth athletics. We have a lot of strong coaches who are nationally recognized behind it, so we feel like we really can accomplish that goal.”

The first phase of the program will begin in January, when 60 soccer coaches from PDA will learn CPR in a medical-simulation lab at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. The sim-lab technology, Kumar said, will enable coaches to train in potential medical-emergency situations encountered on the field.

Kumar is encouraging other youth-level coaches in various sports to participate in the program. For a $100 registration fee, coaches can gain both didactic and hands-on CPR/AED training, Basic Life Support testing and American Heart Association Basic Life Support Certification. To register for the four-hour training session at Saint Peter’s University Hospital SIM Lab, coaches can contact Cheryl Saffer at 732-745-8600 (Ext.: 5887) or email

“The incidents of sudden cardiac deaths in youth sports right now is considered to be 1 in 200,000,” Kumar said. “That being said, in our area alone we had two young athletes die this fall. No symptoms or signs, they went into cardiac arrest at a practice and died.

“The question is why are these kids dying?”


New Jersey has been at the forefront of mandating cardiac screenings and implementing measures to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in high school sports.

In 2012, New Jersey lawmakers implemented Janet’s Law, which requires that all public and private K-12 schools in the state have an emergency-action plan for sudden cardiac arrest and to have an AED within approximately 90 seconds of the athletic field or gym. The following year Gov. Chris Christie signed the Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act, a law that includes a pre-participation physical evaluation form and a mandate for parents to sign an educational pamphlet that explains the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.

Fisher, who is on the board of Parent Heart Watch, a non-profit organization that serves as a national voice for protecting youth athletes from sudden cardiac arrest, said his goal is to get a law passed requiring parents to sign questionnaires on their child’s heart history at the point of signups for their youth leagues throughout the state.

But Kumar said questionnaires and cardiac screenings aren’t enough.

“There are a lot of cardiac abnormalities that might not be detected from a screenings,” she said. “As we met throughout the fall, we realized (mandating) screenings wouldn’t be the right path.”

Kumar said studies of past incidents show “it’s all about minutes” when it comes to saving a life in sudden cardiac arrests.

“Really the way to handle it is early defibrillation,” Kumar said. “Every minute that goes by without getting shocked by a defibrillator your mortality rate goes up 10 percent. Once somebody recognizes an issue, they contract EMS and it can be 10 minutes before that shock is applied to the chest. That’s why the mortality rate is so high with this issue. We wanted to bring solutions to the field.”

While she stressed the need for people to call 911 immediately at the first sign of an athlete collapsing because of an apparent heart issue, Kumar said: “The problem with the ambulance is there’s traffic and you’re losing minutes.

“But for every athlete there’s a coach who’s 100 feet away. The thinking was if we could get coaches who are trained and educated on what to do, we can save a life and you can ultimately cut down — or even eliminate — mortality from sudden cardiac arrests.”


In a college basketball game against North Carolina State on Saturday, South Carolina State guard Tyvoris Soloman’s heart reportedly stopped and he collapsed on the court.

Solomon was resuscitated by a South Carolina State athletic trainer and emergency medical personnel used an AED to revive the 5-foot-10 guard.

“I guess you have all these things in place for a situation like this,” South Carolina State Associate Coach Rio Pitt told reporters after the game, “but you never expect it to happen.”

Solomon survived and is reportedly is undergoing a battery of tests to discover the cause for his heart attack.

“I love those (medical-personnel) guys,” Solomon said in an interview Monday with the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer. “Perfect timing, I guess. I was glad it happened where it happened at because I could have been with one of my teammates in a car and it could have been a whole different situation.”

Fisher said it’s incidents like this one that proves athletes who go into sudden cardiac arrest can be revived if there are quick-acting coaches with an AED close to the playing fields.

His son didn’t have that chance.

According to an Aug. 26, 2008, report in The Star-Ledger, a parent who was a certified EMT ran onto the field, pulled off Sean’s helmet and administered CPR. Authorities said paramedics later used a defibrillator, but Sean was pronounced dead at a Bergen County hospital.

“When somebody goes into cardiac arrest, you have 10 minutes,” James Fisher said, reiterating Kumar’s medical expertise. “You need to have defibrillators nearby.”

His organization donates AEDs to various youth leagues throughout the country. He points to PDA, which is equipping its Somerset-based facility and practice fields with multiple AEDs as what he hopes will be the standard for club teams throughout the state.

“When it was presented to (PDA founder) Tom (Anderson), he said, ‘If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,’ ” Kumar said. “Typical AEDs range from $500 to $1,000. But youth athletics is a $2 billion industry. Parents will be more than willing to spend a little more money for safety and to save a life.”


On the day of his meeting with Fisher at Rutgers, O’Neill received an email from a coach at PDA, Jeremy Beardsley, who coined the “All Heart” title for the program.

The email read: “All Heart was borne from a deep belief in the powerful emotional connection great teams have with each other. All Heart is not just a concept we discuss as soccer players, it is the powerful realization that in everything we do we must do it with ALL HEART. We remind ourselves at the end of every training session and at the end of every match that the conviction to give our complete effort and leave nothing else to chance is the core of the All Heart mentality. It binds us together and is the foundation of our culture. We live All Heart not just for ourselves but our teammates and our families.”

O’Neill, who has compiled a 57-18-15 record and led Rutgers to four straight NCAA Tournaments since taking over the women’s soccer program in 2014, said the All Heart Program is “personal” to him because of Fisher.

“I watch him cry and it has an impact on me,” said O’Neill, who is quick to credit Gerry McKeown, the PDA boys soccer director and director of the U.S. Club Soccer boys program, for his assistance to the All Hearts cause.

“I know this is therapy for Jimmy. I just believe in using all our resources to make people aware of what’s happening and what we can do about it.”

Clinging to his son’s picture, Fisher smiled at O’Neill’s words.

“It’s all about trying to prevent it from happening again,” he said.





Soccer coaches raise awareness for sudden cardiac arrest deaths

By Keith Sargeant | NJ Advance Media for | Posted on December 7, 2017
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