A mother’s promise to honor her son’s memory and help others continues in Dewey Beach.
Laura Ashby’s son Dave Ashby was only 28 years old when he died peacefully in his sleep of sudden cardiac arrest in October 2019. Dave was an owner of a Bellevue Street bayside condo, and made many friends throughout town, earning him the nickname “the mayor.”
To raise awareness of the risks of SCA and celebrate his life, Laura organized the inaugural Dave’s Dewey Dash 5K in October 2021, garnering $25,000, with net funds after expenses $17,728, for the Dewey Beach Beautification Project.
True to her word, Laura presented a proposal to town commissioners June 17 for a memorial to be constructed at the corner of Bellevue Street and Bayard Avenue near Dave’s former home.
The park-like setting will hold two cast-iron benches, plantings and an educational plaque with a QR code that links to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation with information on how SCA differs from heart attacks, and how to help someone in distress.
Plans originally called for benches to be attached to a concrete pad so the benches could be easily replaced when needed and pavers would not drift away during occasional flooding.
After some discussion among commissioners, who said the use of impervious surfaces has been discouraged throughout town, council suggested the use of pervious pavers as the base for the benches, with a concrete border to hold them in place. Laura said she would take the idea back to the contractors.
Commissioners unanimously approved the project, with the provision that future memorials be considered first by commissioners before plans are made and that educational components be included to justify the use of town space.
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, SCA is the third leading cause of death in the United States. SCA occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating; those experiencing SCA become unresponsive and stop breathing normally.
It affects people of all ages who may seem to be healthy, and survival depends on people calling 911, starting CPR and using an AED as soon as possible.
Only one person in 10 survives SCA, but if bystanders give CPR and use AEDs immediately, five in 10 people could survive, the foundation states; seven in 10 SCAs occur at home.
In a June 21 email, Laura said she has partnered with Simon’s Heart, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about and preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children, for the upcoming October 2022 race.
“Everything will be run through their organization, so all donations and sponsorships are tax-deductible,” Laura said. “The proceeds will be used to purchase AED machines, the associated training, CPR education and, if possible, youth athlete screening.”
The second annual Dave’s Dewey Dash 5K is set for Saturday, Oct. 1. Register at raceroster.com.