A Program of the Medtronic Foundation

Bruce Harper
Bakken Winner Harper

Bruce Harper

2013 Bakken Invitation Honoree

Closter, New Jersey, United States
Heroes and Cool Kids

Medical Condition: Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
Medical Therapy: Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)*

Bruce's "extra life"Inspires Me

Having experienced sudden cardiac arrest four times, Bruce realizes the lifesaving power of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). This former New York Jets football player now mentors students of all ages through Heroes and Cool Kids, which he founded after his cardiac events.

Bruce's Story

"I have a condition called cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle. It was this underlying condition that caused cardiac arrest; my heart stopped pumping normally, nearly costing me my life. They tell me that during my first SCA, I collapsed and was revived by a defibrillator. All I remember is waking up in the hospital the next day. I was then told that I had to have an ICD implanted in my chest. Over the years, and after my ICD saved me three more times, I personally realize the brevity of life.

"I wanted to make whatever time I had remaining count for something good so I gave my life over to giving. My near-death experiences have caused me to examine myself in search of real purpose in life.

"As a former professional football player for the New York Jets, I have been given a great platform. I have always connected with youth and I decided to use my platform to do good for them. It works! The Heroes and Cool Kids program is teaching and helping thousands of kids set goals in their lives, and helping them to make good choices."

Bruce's Words of Inspiration

"I have learned that there is real purpose for every life! I believe that one of my purposes right now is to inspire our youth to be proactive in finding 'The Way' for themselves by getting involved. Taking that first step is how to get started. I've heard it said that 'You’ve got to aim for something or you’re bound to hit nothing.' So we get young people thinking and then planning for their future. They learn from us as we give of ourselves that a key to life's happiness is to be charitable to others."

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$20,000 Grant Makes an Impact

Bruce's Charity

"I founded Heroes and Cool Kids to help young people. We started in 3 school districts in 1998. Today, we are cost-effective solution that directly impacts young lives by raising awareness about peer pressures, school violence, intolerance, unethical behaviors, as well as reducing the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and delaying the age of experimentation. We are now in 62 districts, reaching more than 20,000 kids each year."

Learn about other 2013 Honorees »

*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you. Please refer to Important Safety Information.