Article posted on January 12, 2024

Fundraising campaign installs lifesaving AEDs throughout community of Castor, Alberta

“It can happen anywhere, and to anyone. That was the heartbreaking lesson [we] learned on a beach in rural Manitoba nearly two years ago,” said Leanne Lougheed, a mother who founded the fundraising campaign ‘Smile Like Emily’ in memory of her daughter, alongside Emily’s father Michael.

Emily had a rare heart condition which caused her to collapse while playing on a beach. The family jumped into action, using a defibrillator, and doing everything they could to save her life. Sadly, due to the nature of her heart condition, resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.


Emily Ann Lougheed, photo courtesy of Leanne Lougheed.

Emily Ann Lougheed, photo courtesy of Leanne Lougheed.

“There was no explanation, and there were no signs,” says Leanne.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone, at any time. It is results from a malfunction of the electrical activity of the heart, which causes a person to collapse and stop breathing.

The Heart and Stroke foundation estimates that there are 35,000 Sudden Cardiac arrests in Canada each year.

Thankfully, medical and technological advancements have allowed for Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, to become more and more commonplace. An AED should be used on a patient in cardiac arrest in order to shock the heart and potentially restore a normal heart rhythm.

To honour Emily’s memory, the Lougheeds endeavoured to fundraise for placement of AEDs in their community of Castor, Alberta.

“If we can prevent even one family from going through the pain we have, and always will go through, then it’s worth it” explains Leanne.

Their goal was to purchase 3 AEDs, as well as 3 Savestations - an outdoor, temperature and security-controlled cabinet, to be installed throughout the town.


Photo credit: The Stettler Independent

The community rallied in support of the Lougheeds and in Emily’s memory. They exceeded their goal and enough funds were raised for the purchase of 4 AEDs as well as the Savestations to house them in. Generous donations include contributions from the ATCO Employee Company Hockey Tournament, the Castor Legion, and Paintearth fundraising group ‘100 Women Who Care’, as well as many members of the town of Castor and surrounding areas.

The AEDs and Savestations have been installed and ready to use at the Quality Fitness Studio, Castor Ball Diamonds, Gus Wetter School, and the Town of Castor Municipal Building. Having AEDs in areas such as gyms and recreation facilities is critical, as cardiac arrest is more likely to occur during times of increased physical activity.

Additionally, there are plans in place to install a fifth AED in the near future. This device will be available at the Theresetta School.

“The support from the community has been overwhelming and amazing,” Leanne said. “We are so thankful… I’m proud to be a part of this community and so very humble and grateful for how this community once again came together.”

To learn more about AEDs and how to use them, please visit our FAQ and Helpful Videos pages. For more information about Savestations, please visit their website at And don't forget to Smile Like Emily!

Emily Ann Lougheed, photo courtesy of Leanne Lougheed.

Last Updated: Friday, January 12, 2024

Calgary, Alberta, Canada