Country singer Michael Harding had a very personal reason for taking part in Tuesday night’s benefit concert to raise money for automated external defibrillators for Hamburg Township police.
Last time he was in the township, for last year’s Hamburg Fun Fest, he fell victim to a heart attack, and his life was most likely saved by a defibrillator used by a first responder.
Steve and Renee LaFave also have personal reasons. Their son, Michael, died in a 2005 boating accident, and they wanted a way to pay tribute to his memory. So they donated a defibrillator.
The LaFaves’ and Harding’s generosity, along with dozens of others who gathered at Zukey Lake Tavern for the benefit, raised about $8,000. That’s enough — along with defibrillators donated by Mike Mills of the Hamburg Pub and Chuck Plante and Rick Glazer of the Zukey Lake Tavern — to equip all seven of the township’s police cars and the police headquarters with defibrillators.
That’s more than Township Clerk Joanna Hardesty, one of the event’s organizers, expected to raise.
“I thought we would get enough for one unit,” she said.
The township’s Fire Department already has the defibrillators — which are used to shock a person’s heart back into normal rhythm — but the police cars didn’t, Hardesty said.
Harding drove from Indiana for the event, and had another show in the Indianapolis area the next day, but said he was glad to be able to be a part of the fundraiser.
“I figured, what better spokesman than me?” he said. “I’m very proud to be a part of this and have the opportunity to say ‘Thank you’ to the community.”
Steve LaFave said this was the perfect chance to pay tribute to his son.
“If it can save one person, it’s worth it,” he said.
The event also featured two auctions — one silent, and one conducted by professional auctioneer Brian Braun. Most of the items for sale were sports-related framed pictures or jerseys. Lonesome County, a bluegrass band, also played. The event was sponsored by the Hamburg Enhanced Recreation Organization, which puts on the Hamburg Fun Fest.
Although previous estimates had the price of a defibrillator at $3,000, Hardesty said going through a state purchasing pool lowered the cost to $1,300 each.