Whole-hearted Passion

With sudden cardiac arrest, minutes matter.

“Every minute reduces the survival rate by 7%,” explains Jon Kinsley ’83, president of the BeKipp Foundation, which provides automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to schools and organizations in the Yankton, South Dakota, area.

Jon and his wife, Shelly, started the foundation in 2019 after their son, Kipp, an elite professional triathlete, died of sudden cardiac arrest. The 25-year-old’s death came one day after he won his hometown triathlon, Yankton’s Best Tri. 

The tragedy drove the Kinsleys to work to increase the availability of AEDs in their region. The life-saving devices monitor a patient’s heart rhythm and administer a shock when needed. They cost around $1,200.

Though some find AEDs intimidating, Shelly says they are remarkably user-friendly.

“When you first turn it on, it says to put on the pads, and it walks you through it,” she says.

As of November, the foundation had awarded 12 AEDs and was in the process of awarding five more. Northwestern College is among the recipients.

Jon said the work is rewarding because it provides an ongoing way to honor Kipp.

“We just hope our actions through the foundation will save somebody else the grief Shelly and I have gone through,” he says.