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Forestville Family honored on Rose Parade Float

thumb_2_Lewis -Steve Griffith-600.jpg

Forestville Family honored on Rose Parade Float

By Vesta Copestakes 

Last month I got a call from a woman in Texas who wanted me to know that her brother and nephew are about to be honored by being on the American Heart Association float in the Rose Parade on January 2nd in Pasadena. She wanted it to be a surprise for her brother to see the news in the Gazette, the paper from his hometown, Forestville. We placed it in our Forestville, The Good Life column and waited until he read it. Great surprise, Sis! 

Steve Griffith is well known in Forestville for his enthusiastic volunteer efforts at our schools, Forestville Elementary and Academy and El Molino High School. He’s an advocate for quality education and puts his time and energy into getting parents connected with the schools that educate their children.  Not too long ago he was helping agricultural students pick apples from an orchard that was about to be ripped out and replaced by a vineyard. The apples became food cooked up by the culinary class for people to purchase to finance projects in both classes. Steve’s the kind of person who “walks his talk” so has real value to our community as well as his family. When his son Lewis saved his life using CPR he had learned in school, our community not only celebrated Lewis, but also gave a sigh of relief that we would not be losing Steve. 

In September 2016, California passed a law that will requires hands-only CPR training for high school students. The new law will result in about 270,000 of the 377,000 California high school graduates each year being trained in CPR. Every year people are saved by the administration of CPR by a teen who received CPR training. The law takes effect with the 2018-2019 school year and states that high schools that require a course in health education to graduate will be required to offer CPR training. In this case, Lewis was just 13 when he saved his father’s life after taking a CPR class at Forestville Academy taught by Save Lives Sonoma.

SLS (Save Lives Sonoma) is a local organization of emergency healthcare professionals and responders who want to take the fear out of CPR. They teach Hands-Only Compression training for free to make sure people have the confidence that they can do it right. By starting CPR right away they can manually keep blood flowing through a body until help arrives. That not only makes the difference in whether a person lives or dies, but also in the quality of life they gain after the incident. If blood does not keep flowing, oxygen cannot feed the body, and the body starts to die right away. Approximately 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed immediately and effectively, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. This simple technique makes all the difference to the victim. So SLS wants people to lose that fear and just follow this simple two-step process:

1) Call 9-1-1 (or make sure someone is doing that).

2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

For Steve, his story would have been over if Lewis had not heard him fall to the floor and start CPR right away. His SLS class taught him to place the palm of his hand on the victim’s chest and start pumping to keep oxygen and blood flowing to vital organs and the brain until help arrives. Pumping to the Bee Gee’s tune “Stayin’ Alive” went right into Lewis’ head without thinking as he started the process after calling 911. When the Forestville Fire department ambulance came they used their defibrillator on Steve, but his heart stopped completely 4 times according to his sister Jan.  Clearly, this team got Steve’s heart pumping again because he’s still around to tell the tale.

So on January 2nd Steve and Lewis Griffith, with their family Elizabeth and Ella, will be part of the American Heart Association’s rose-covered float “Keep the Beat Alive” courtesy of AHA and Union Bank who have been working together for three decades in the fight against heart disease and stroke. This year’s parade theme is Echoes of Success, so the float will highlight youth who saved a life by administering CPR, as well as the person they saved. The float is covered in 2,500 pounds of flowers, is 22 feet high and 55 feet long featuring a heart-shaped DJ booth/stage where Ilisa Juried, who survived cardiac arrest at age 18 because a bystander administered CPR, will premiere an original song she wrote and produced. The song has a rhythm of 100 beats per minute – the recommended compression rate for CPR administration.

2017 Union Bank-AHA Rose Parade Float

It turns out that Steve’s heart stopped because of a clogged artery, and with a stent, he is now back to his normal life helping people in his community. He’s humble and kind, always smiling and willing to share his joy and another opportunity to join him on his latest project helping kids. So on Valentine’s Day I will accompany him to a classroom where this CPR technique will be taught and he will tell his tale…because he is alive to spread the word. How can anyone say no to Steve! 

THANKS Steve for spreading the word. THANKS Lewis for saving your father’s Life  - and THANKS Save Lives Sonoma for being so passionate in your missionto get 100 percent of Sonoma County residents trained in hands-only CPR, and to increase awareness of the importance of bystander CPR.”


Hands-Only CPR Demo

Hands-Only CPR Can Save Lives.

Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. As a bystander, don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help.

When calling 911, you will be asked for your location. Be specific, especially if you’re calling from a mobile phone as that is not associated with a fixed address. Answering the dispatcher’s questions will not delay the arrival of help.

How to Give Hands-Only CPR.

If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.” CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival, and “Stayin’ Alive” has the right beat for Hands-Only CPR.



About the American Heart Association/Union Bank partnership:

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For three decades, Union Bank and the American Heart Association have united in the fight against heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers of both men and women. Union Bank has been engaged in multiple aspects of the AHA’s work, including fundraising, education, volunteer leadership, employee involvement and health messaging. In the last nine years alone, the bank’s employees and clients have donated more than $8.6 million in support of the AHA’s critical research, education, and prevention programs. 2017 will be the second year that Union Bank has joined with the AHA in presenting a Rose Parade float.


About the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®

The Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts America’s New Year Celebration® with the Rose Parade® presented by Honda, the Rose Bowl Game® presented by Northwestern Mutual and a variety of accompanying events. 935 volunteer members of the association will drive the success of 128th Rose Parade themed “Echoes of Success,” on Monday, January 2, 2017, followed by the 103rd Rose Bowl Game. For more information, visit Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and visit our blog at