UNION, Ky. — A Northern Kentucky couple who lost their son to sudden cardiac arrest has dedicated their lives to spreading awareness and preventing other travesties. The world watched as it looked like one was happening in Paycor Stadium this past January when Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin went down on the field.
Hamlin’s life was saved, and when the Bills returned to Cincinnati this past weekend, Hamlin and his family had dinner with the Mangine family.
Matt and Kim Mangine each lost a piece of their heart when their son Matthew died of sudden cardiac arrest at soccer practice in June 2020.
They went on to start the Matthew Mangine Jr. “One Shot” Foundation to bring awareness to emergency action plans and get more AEDs at sports venues and schools.
They don’t want any parents to go through what they did. But on Jan. 2 of this year, Hamlin’s parents came close.
“I can’t imagine the mental anguish that he goes through, you know, dealing with that,” Matt said. “But I know from talking to Mario and Nina that it’s different, but it’s kind of the same. You know, they were there when the night that Damar went down and they had to witness it too. And Kim was there the night that Matthew went down. So I know from an emotional, mental standpoint that takes a very big toll on you as a parent.”
Hamlin’s life was saved by the quick response from medical personnel and the use of AED.
It changed everything for the “One Shot” foundation.
“Since Jan. 2, you know, our mission and our organization has exploded. And I would tell you right now, we’re about five years ahead of where we ever dreamt to be just because of the size and scope. And now people are really listening to what we have to say and people are reaching out. So it’s a great positive. I don’t think our voice alone would have gotten us to where we are today. But now, with all the awareness and what happened on national tv, that really changed the national narrative that night,” Matt said.
Hamlin himself has since become a major advocate for cardiac arrest awareness and AED training, and has even bumped into the Mangine family a few times.
But this past Saturday night, when the Bills returned to Cincinnati for the first time for their Sunday night matchup with the Bengals, Matt, Kim and their son went out to dinner with the man that has inspired so many people to take an interest in their mission, and his family.
“They could have easily said that, you know, this is a very hard thing for them to talk about because, I mean, let’s face it, you know, he died on a football field in front of how many millions of eyeballs and was brought back,” Matt said. “God has a plan for all of us in that, you know, no different than Kim and I. And I think that’s kind of how we’ve done what we’ve done to this point through what we’ve gone through.”
Kim added, “I don’t think this is the path we would have chosen, but it’s the path that has been put in front of us. And so we have to make the best that we can with it and hopefully make some impact with a larger voice.”
They wish every day their son Matthew was still with them, and every day they try to make him proud.
“I hope he would be proud of us. When I go in front of these kids and I look at them all in the face, it’s you know, it’s like looking at 20 Matthews and it doesn’t matter who they are, where they are,” Matt said. “And Damar’s really not that much older than Matthew. And that’s how you put it in perspective, is, you know, he would have been 20 this year. He’s always 16 burned into your memory. And that’s the hardest part. I think.”
The Mangine and Hamlin families are now forever linked in their mission to save lives.
The Matthew Mangine Jr. foundation has now done training in Columbus and Owensboro. It’s working to expand to Louisville and Lexington.