Kvapil’s team honors late basketball player
BROOKLYN, MICH. Janesville native Travis Kvapil took some time before the Sprint Cup race Sunday to meet with the family of Wes Leonard, the Michigan high school basketball player who died this year after making a winning shot.
Kvapil’s No. 38 Ford carried the logo of the Wes Leonard Heart Team on its rear quarter panels. The foundation was set up in Leonard’s memory to honor children who have lost their lives to sudden cardiac arrest and help prevent similar tragedies in the future.
“It’s been 13 weeks, and I’m still all over the place,” said Leonard’s mother, Jocelyn. “I never know if it’s going to be a bad day or a good day, but every time I work with our heart team, it’s better because at least I’m doing something important.”
The 16-year-old Leonard had cardiac arrest March 3 because of an enlarged heart.
The Wes Leonard Heart Team is lobbying for legislation providing schools with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and training to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest in athletes.
“There’s been a lot more kids in this country that died from sudden cardiac arrest since Wesley 13 weeks ago,” Jocelyn Leonard said. “Our kids can’t die because we don’t make our schools buy AEDs, period. ... Everybody should want to save lives for $1,400. That’s it. It’s $1,400 per school.”
Jim Leonard, the boy’s uncle, was overcome with emotion during the day at the racetrack. He described himself and his nephew as casual racing fans.
“The overall response from just everybody has been overwhelming,” he said.
“I spent 10 minutes crying just thinking how much he would enjoy being here to see this.”