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Awareness session on sudden cardiac death

March 2023

Worcester Volleyball Club, Thibodeau Foundation team up to raise awareness on sudden cardiac death

By Spectrum News Staff Worcester

PUBLISHED 5:47 PM ET Mar. 11, 2023

Watch the video here.

WORCESTER, Mass. - A presentation in Worcester Saturday raised awareness about sudden cardiac death in children and adolescents.

The Worcester Volleyball Club and Open Sky Community Services have teamed up with the Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation, which is a nonprofit spreading the message on how to best prevent those sudden cardiac deaths in youth. The club focuses on bringing together people with and without disabilities, in an effort to educate and play with their peers. 

The nonprofit says sudden cardiac arrest is the condition in which the heart unexpectedly ceases to function and if not treated within minutes, can lead to death. The cause is near and dear to the club. President Susan Dunshee's son had surgery to correct a heart syndrome which could've increased his chances of experiencing cardiac arrest.

"Well I just want them to be aware or, you know, if they're playing a sport, could be volleyball or any other sport, even out playing a pickup game of basketball with friends outside, if they see something, to act immediately," Dunshee said. "I think that's a lot of the problems, people aren't educated, they see something, if they move quickly, you know, people can be saved."

"We have this happening now here right at our Mann Street location, it's our main office in Worcester and we don't have a sport initiative going, so Susan and I met up and started this," said Open Sky's Michelle Benjamin. "We look forward to developing more activities, have somebody like the foundation come in and not just play volleyball, but educate them about health and wellness"

The nonprofit held a presentation at a practice Saturday. It's named after 12-year-old Josh Thibodeau, who died unexpectedly while playing soccer at Wachusett Regional High School in 2011. 

"The more people we know that are prepared if someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest the more we can basically try to help and save people," said Thibodeau's father, Ralph. "So I will walk through hands only CPR, I'll walk through an AED use and kind of just overall train of thought"

The Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation donated an AED to the Worcester Volleyball Club, who will bring it around with the team.


Open Sky’s Community Membership Department and Worcester Volleyball Club Blazers began partnering last year to offer inclusive volleyball each weekend for youth of all abilities. The program provides the opportunity to increase physical activity, create new friendships, develop new skills, increase independence, and experience success.

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