© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
People on hand for the 10th annual Wake-Up Call Awareness Day yesterday at Amherst Stadium included: retired RCMP officers Kevin Fenton and Len O’Halloran; Victoria Horne, communications Manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; Amherst mayor Robert Small, Awareness Day founder Ron Elliott Sr., bagpipe major Rob Campbell of the Corrections Services Canada, Amherst town councillor Terry Rhindress, and retired RCMP officer Paul Calder.
AMHERST – Even if you die doing what you love, it can never make up for all that is lost.
“I know they say he died doing what he loved, but I know he’d much rather be here with his four daughters,” said Peggy O’Brien, Ron Elliott Junior’s sister.
Elliott died of a heart attack at the age of 40 while playing hockey.
He collapsed on the ice in a gentlemen's tournament in Cocagne, N.B., on Nov. 22, 1998, while playing hockey with his lifelong friends on the Amherst Mooseheads.
Elliott’s daughters are all grown up now. One works with the RCMP in Manitoba, one teaches in South Korea, another teaches in B.C. and another lives in New Glasgow.
In the wake of his death, Ron’s father, Ron Elliott Sr., started the Wake-Up Call Awareness Day program, whereby people are encouraged to get a medical checkup.
Going 10-years strong now, people arriving at Amherst Stadium yesterday were greeted at a kiosk where they could pick up a Wake-Up Call Card. The card reminds people to get a health checkup to help ensure any health problems they might have will be detected before it’s too late.
Former RCMP officer, Paul Calder, was at Amherst Stadium yesterday.
“A check up is something people tend to put off and say, ‘I’ll do that tomorrow,’ but sometimes tomorrow is too late,” said Calder.
A checkup was mandatory every three years when Calder was still on the RCMP, but now he’s responsible for getting his own checkups.
“I had a checkup a few months ago,” said the 62-year-old. “It’s pretty straight forward. You go to your general practitioner for a regular checkup and if he thinks you need an ECG he will order it for you. It only takes a few minutes.
‘It usually takes longer in the waiting room that it does to get the test.”
O’Brien said she misses her brother every day.
“He was a great brother. He liked to joke and tease and liked to have fun,” she said. “He would do anything for anybody.”
Besides Peggy, his dad and his four daughters, Elliott is also survived by his wife Sherri, his sister Patsy Martin, who lives in Summerside, PEI, and two brothers - David, who lives in B.C., and Scott, who lives in Halifax.
Victoria Horne, communications Manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, says the impact of the Wake Up Call program has been invaluable.
“Ron’s dedication to the requirement of having AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators) in facilities like this (Amherst Stadium) is so important.”
Horne also emphasized the importance of learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“AED’s and CPR save lives. They increase the chance of survival by 75 per cent,” she said. “Ron’s son, unfortunately, is no longer with us but if an AED and CPR would have been available (in Cocagne, N.B.) he might still be with us today.”
Horne said that through the Wake Up Call, and other programs in Nova Scotia, the Heart and Stroke Foundation hopes to encourage more facilities to carry AED’s.
“It’s a commitment to place 100 AED’s across the province of Nova Scotia before 2015,” she said. “Wherever you see a fire extinguisher we hope to see an AED.”