At the August meeting of its Board of Directors, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health presented its inaugural Creating Healthier Communities Together Award to Dylan Conner, a seventh grader at Kent County Middle School.
The award was recently established by UM Shore Regional Health to recognize residents of the organization’s five-county service area who participate in realizing its mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together. The award recognizes individuals or groups who have made an outstanding contribution to improve the health and well-being of the communities within Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties through efforts including: raising awareness about a chronic disease or health-related issue; participation in a community service project and/or health-related program or service that provides the region with greater access to health care services; participation in a fundraising project through which the funds are raised for health-related programs, services or equipment.
Conner, son of Jeff Conner and Ellen Gale of Chestertown, was selected for the Creating Healthier Communities Together Award for his planning and execution of the “Start the Heart” campaign, through which he raised funds for the purchase and installation of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in downtown Chestertown. He decided to launch the campaign after noticing that a high percentage of Chestertown residents and visitors are of an age group more prone to heart-related conditions.
Upon learning from David Rice, chief of Kent County Emergency Medical Services, that an AED costs approximately $2400, Conner developed a strategy to raise the funds which included submitting an application to the Family and Community Partnerships of Kent County (FCPKC) for a Kids Who Care Award. He was awarded $1000 – the highest award available – from FCPKC. Additionally, Conner visited every business in downtown Chestertown and asked them each to “just donate $1.00 to the campaign.” To his delight, many businesses donated more.
As a result of all his efforts, Conner and Rice installed the new AED on May 9, near the ATM at the main branch of The People’s Bank, which is adjacent to Fountain Park, an area frequented by many town residents and visitors.
“The leadership team and Board of Directors of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health were thrilled to recognize Dylan’s commitment to the health and well-being of Chestertown residents,” comments Kenneth Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health. “This is a prime example of the community partnerships our organization relies upon to provide accessible care to the residents of our region and to support us in living our mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.”