Inked for the cause
Some people send donations to their favorite charity or nonprofit. Others roll up their sleeves and get dirty doing hands-on volunteer work.
Justin Everett ’11, a communication data analyst in UD’s Enrollment Management Communication Center, is more than happy to roll up his sleeve as well to promote his cause — but not for the reasons most would expect.
Last fall, Everett became a walking billboard for the American Red Cross, getting a tattoo of the organization’s logo on his left arm. It’s certainly a conversation starter, which is exactly what Everett wants.
“I never wanted a tattoo before, but we thought it would be a great way to spread the word about pediatric CPR,” Everett said.
He credits his knowledge of pediatric CPR — and taking numerous Red Cross-sponsored courses in the procedure — for saving his infant daughter’s life.
Little Sawyer Everett and twin brother Korben were born six weeks before their due date in 2015. Both had lung issues and breathing complications from birth, and one month later, Sawyer experienced a near-fatal choking spell.
Justin first learned pediatric CPR in an American Red Cross class as a teen lifeguard and took refresher courses for years after that — including one shortly before his children’s birth. After seeing Sawyer go rigid, pass out and then become limp, Everett knew he had to act immediately.
While his wife, Brittany, called 911, Everett began working to open Sawyer’s airways, as she’d gone two minutes without breathing. He delivered rescue breaths and chest compressions, and finally, she gasped. When paramedics arrived, they were able to stabilize her, although she had turned ghastly white and was still in a limp state.
His quick work saved her life.
“Pediatric CPR is totally different than adult CPR,” Everett said. “I went 15 years never having to perform CPR on anyone, and all of a sudden, I had to do it for my 5-pound daughter.”
When the twins grew older, their organs developed more fully and one day, their breathing issues stopped. Sawyer has no lingering developmental issues related to the lack of oxygen she suffered during the choking episode, Everett said, and both children will turn 2 this summer.
As for the tattoo, Everett and his wife wanted a permanent way to thank the American Red Cross for its services and give a visible call to action to others. Brand representatives from the national organization supported his idea wholeheartedly when he contacted them, down to sending ideas and helping him pick a final design.
In January, national leaders from the Red Cross traveled to Cincinnati, where they recognized Everett and his family in person for his awareness-raising effort and for rescuing his daughter.
Now, when he talks to people about his tattoo, he tells them to sign up for a pediatric CPR class. They could eventually save a life.