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Red Cross Fetes Westport Couple For Life-Saving AED Initiative

The Red Cross honored Westport residents Mary and MaryGrace Gudis during an awards breakfast Friday morning.
The Red Cross honored Westport residents Mary and MaryGrace Gudis during an awards breakfast Friday morning. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

WESTPORT, Conn. — Westport resident Mark Gudis lives by the motto, “Give back at least the equivalent of what you take out.”

Gudis had the opportunity to give back when he saw a student in cardiac arrest at a soccer game on Oct. 23, 2015. He sprang into action, running to his car to get his Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to help the student.

The student survived — and is now alive and well. During a Friday morning awards ceremony, the Red Cross presented Mark Gudis and his wife, MaryGrace, with the Spirit of the Red Cross Hero Award in Stamford.

“It’s really humbling,” Mark Gudis told the Daily Voice shortly before the award presentation. “When we think about the definition of a hero — my wife and I personally — we said it’s somebody that risks their life and puts themselves in harm’s way to save somebody or to prevent a tragedy. We don’t feel like we did that. … We feel like were in the right place at the right time.”

After the incident, Mark and MaryGrace Gudis were inspired to start an awareness initiative to put 100 AEDs in Westport, Wilton, Weston, Norwalk and New Canaan. Mark hopes to have AEDs in such places as ballfields, Levitt Pavilion and the transfer station.

Mark and MaryGrace Gudis are also spearheading the introduction of mandatory CPR and AED training as part of the high school curriculum for students.

Mark Gudis, a Norwalk Hospital trustee, said he and his wife feel an obligation to give back to the community. “We see life as a gift and it offers us the privilege, the opportunity and also the responsibility to give something back,” he said.

The Westport couple — and the other honorees — were selected from a competitive field of more than 75 nominations of heroes from across the state.

Mario Bruno, CEO of the American Red Cross’ Connecticut and Rhode Island regions, said Friday’s breakfast honors many deserving citizens.

“The heroes breakfast is to me what I call my ‘Red Cross recharge,'” Bruno said. “It’s an amazing morning, recognizing some amazing people that did some extraordinary things in the community.”

The event also recognized Westport-based Bridgewater Associates for its Workplace Hero Award.

Stamford Mayor David Martin also made an appearance at the event, presenting the Water Safety Hero Award to lifeguards from Plainville.

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