BELPRE - As a way of keeping her close, the family and friends of a Belpre teenager who died late last year have started the Emily Spencer Memorial Foundation to aid those in need.
"After she died, we felt this foundation would be a great way of keeping her memory alive," said Heather Glass, co-director of the organization.
Spencer, 16, passed away on Dec. 22, 2010, after being on life support for three days at Camden Clark Medical Center, St. Joseph's Campus. The sophomore at Belpre High School had been treated at the hospital after she suffered a suspected heart attack in her home while getting ready for school.
Glass said the purpose of the foundation is to raise money to purchase automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) for distribution throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"We want to put them in the gymnasium of all the area high schools, and possibly other schools, as well as school buses and churches," she said. "Really, we want them to be everywhere people gather."
AEDs were chosen as the donation because having one available to emergency officers that first responded to Spencer's home that Monday morning may have helped save her. It is not known if an AED might have helped in Spencer's situation, but the club and parents wanted the department to have one in case it might be able to help someone else in the future.
About the foundation
Family of Emily Spencer, a Belpre teenager who passed away in December following a suspected heart attack, have set up a memorial foundation in her name to put automatic external defibrillators in the community.
The foundation will also provide scholarships to local students as well as grants and other financial assistance.
A spokeswoman for Spencer's family said by creating this fund, they hope to keep her memory alive.
"We don't know if having an AED there would have saved her; it was her time to leave us," Glass said. "But, we are trying to make something great out of her memory."
In March the city of Belpre was presented an AED from the Belpre Woman's Club to be placed in the Belpre Police Department's duty cruiser to be used in emergency situations by officers on patrol.
Mayor Mike Lorentz said the club chose to purchase one after Spencer's passing in order to help others in similar situations.
Melinda Helmick, Spencer's mother, said that she thinks the foundation is a "great idea because we can help others and change lives.
"Through the foundation, Emily's name won't be forgotten," she said.
Glass said the mission of the foundation is two-fold - along with getting AEDs out into the community, it will start a scholarship, grant and financial assistance to aid students via the Emily Spencer Memorial Scholarship program.
"We created this foundation to save lives with the AEDs and change lives through the scholarships and grants," Glass said.
The foundation began, in part, as the Emily Spencer Memorial Fund that was created to help her family pay for her funeral and medical expenses. Now that those things have mostly been taken care of, the foundation will collect funds through events and donations, Glass said.
One of the events is a Scentsy online fundraising event that will continue through April 30 with 20 percent of the total sales being donated to the foundation. A second event will be a yard sale in 2700 Hampton St. in Parkersburg from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 6 and 7.
"I hope people will see the good in her life through the good the foundation and scholarships do for the community," Helmick said.
For more information on the foundation and scholarship fund as well as how to donate, visit the organization's website at www.emilyspencermemorialfoundation.org.