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Service dog dreams come true for heart attack survivor

  • Vinnie Schenone is receiving a puppy from the Make-A-Wish Foundation at Mary's Pizza in Rohnert Park. Robert Grant

By: Irene Hilsendager
August 3, 2018

Back in the spring of 2015, the name Vinnie Schenone was a hot topic. The young man was playing and running a lap at Evergreen Elementary School when he fell to the ground in cardiac arrest. Teachers, Joaquin Bernal and Erin Scull, who knew CPR, were the heroes of the day, resuscitating Vinnie while waiting for EMTs. Vinnie was rushed to Stanford Hospital near Palo Alto and happily this vibrant young lad survived. 

Schenone longed for something that couldn’t quite make the grade for now; he wanted a dog. His doctor determined that Vinnie was eligible for a wish and referred Vinnie to the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Oakland. 

The foundation then sent their wish teams to learn the child’s “one true wish.” The two people that connected with Schenone were John McEntagart and Barbara Pedersen from the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. Later in the process it was learned that John just lived down the street from Vinnie and have become very close pals.

After the referral from Vinnie’s doctor and all of the tedious paper work was filled out, the family met with Barbara and John to discover that all he wanted was a puppy. 

This came true last week while having a puppy shower for Vinnie (he thought he was just there for a luncheon) at Mary’s Pizza in Rohnert Park. Both Barbara and John surprised him with a beautiful little black Labrador pup named Stan, named after Vinnie’s stay at Stanford Hospital. Stan was born at Marble Mountain Kennels, owned by Peter Morrell, in Greenview, California.  Long-time friends along with Joaquin and Erin, teachers, family and many relatives celebrated with Vinnie, whose smile was as big as it could get. 

Stan will not be allowed to go to school with Vinnie but will become a service dog but not like the Canine Companions, but he will be trained to always be with Vinnie in and out of the home. Now that Stan is a service dog, he will have to be trained and that expense falls to the family. Training a service dog is “very, very expensive” so Grandma, being a realtor, will have to sell a few extra homes to pay for it, so she says.

During the incident with Vinnie and his cardiac arrest at school, it was discovered that there weren’t any defibrillators in school. 

Joanne Chapman from Coastal Valley EMS Agency and Gloria Schenone stepped in to get their questions answered as to why there were no defibrillators.

Over the past three years more than 200 AEDs have been place in local schools and youth organizations such as Little League Baseball, the RPPSD, community center, senior centers and the library. 

Sudden cardiac arrest, which occurs when the blood flow to a portion of the heart is blocked, an alarming statistic, kills nearly a thousand people per day in the United States. Less than 10 percent of victims who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting will survive. 

The average response time for a 911 call is from six to 10 minutes. 

Schenone’s next awareness goal is for every school to have an advanced form of cardiac screening where a trained person would go out to the schools and do actual testing such as a EKG.

Since Joaquin is Vinnie’ godfather, Schenone will have a serious task to do this coming Saturday when Vinnie will be best man for Bernal, who is marrying Tenisha Proctor in Santa Rosa.