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From Heart Attack to Heart Warming


From Heart Attack to Heart Warming

A Story of How Support of a Nonprofit Can Pay Dividends Time and Again

MAITLAND, Fla. (February 25, 2021) – Celebrating Heart Month often gets personal and real. It did for the family of Cody Chambers and for the American Fundraising Foundation (AmFund) where his wife Monica Sakurai works as Senior Development and Marketing Director. Interestingly, AmFund is a nonprofit organization that supports other nonprofits through sponsorship of events, grants and educational resources. One of the organizations AmFund has supported for more than 10 years, with donations of over a million dollars in unrestricted funds, is AdventHealth in Orlando – the very hospital system that is credited with saving Mr. Chambers life!

Chambers’ story began on November 21st, 2020 while working with his father in the attic. He began to have severe chest pain. Like many are prone to do, there was a moment of denial – after all, he is an active individual, working as an Engineer with NASA and only 36 years old. But as the pain became excruciating, it was undeniable he was having a heart attack. He was taken immediately to the closest hospital, Fish Memorial (a member of the AdventHealth System) where the attending cardiologist opened his right coronary artery with two stents, immediately saving his life.

The intensity of the story only increased as Chambers became unstable the next day, crashing multiple times and eventually being placed on a ventilator. It was also necessary to perform an emergency procedure to insert an Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP) before stabilizing him for transfer to AdventHealth downtown Orlando where he would undergo another procedure to be placed on an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine to give his body an opportunity to recover without laboring too hard to breath and pump blood to his body.

“It was touch and go for so long with Cody, I could not imagine life without him. With each baby step, I gained more confidence that he would survive. I know that without the balloon pump and the ECMO machine his chances to survive would have been minimal”, said his wife Monica.

Many years prior the American Fundraising Foundation sponsored an event for AdventHealth to raise money to purchase their first ECMO machine. As though history repeated itself in the telling of a survival story, a young mother a few years after that event brought her young daughter to the stage and handed her over to the auctioneer, Wade West, Co-Founder of AmFund, and said, “I want to thank you. You saved my daughter’s life! You helped raise funds for the hospital to purchase an ECMO machine, and they installed it just as my daughter needed it as a result of her being in an accident.”

“I know it wasn’t the same machine that helped save Cody’s life,” said West, “but it sure felt good to know that we had a hand in supporting AdventHealth through the years to ensure when that young girl and even one of our own team members needed the highest level of care – it was there.”

Chambers first experience with AdventHealth was at Fish Memorial in Orange City. Had it not been for their quick response and close proximity to their home, the outcome might not have been as good.

“Knowing that we were in the AdventHealth system of care was comforting. Even though Cody ultimately required a higher level of care within the health system, I was extraordinarily impressed with the compassion, sensitivity, and skill of the team at Fish,” said Monica. “I remember at one point a member of the custodial staff sat quietly with me and my mother-in -law as we were distraught over Cody crashing. It was that quiet, calming presence that made such an impression on our family”.

Because of the COVID pandemic, many nonprofits including hospitals such as AdventHealth found themselves unable to host fundraising events as they had in the past. The American Fundraising Foundation created new methods for nonprofit organizations across the country to fill the gap with virtual events and a new program called Golden Pear Grants. Not knowing that Fish Memorial and Advent Health would become such an important part of saving one of our treasured employee’s husband, Fish Memorial applied for a grant in November and were among many nonprofit organizations that were chosen to receive funding.

A check in the amount of $7,500 was presented to Fish Memorial Hospital. Pictured accepting the award from Advent Health are Lorenzo Brown, President and CEO of Fish Memorial Hospital; Kit Twenter, Foundation Development Officer; Board Member Dr. Toni Castillo on January 22, 2021 as a result of their well written and compelling grant application. Presenting on behalf of the American Fundraising Foundation were Cody’s wife Monica Sakurai, Kalley Dunn, Strategic Initiatives and Development Director, and Deborah Marshall, Chief Operating Officer. The presentation was extended in recognition of their healthcare workers uncompromising care and sacrifice during the pandemic. It underscored too the joy of Cody’s personal story and how he is alive today because of their awesome care.

Organizations are invited to apply for funding opportunities by call 407-895-8000 or sending an email to

Media Contact: Deborah Marshall Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (407) 895-8000

About the American Fundraising Foundation

Each year, the American Fundraising Foundation (AmFund) carefully chooses organizations to support through sponsorship of events, unrestricted grant distribution, virtual silent auctions, and other programs to raise much-needed unrestricted funds for the important mission of those organizations.

AmFund was recognized in 2020 by Nonprofit PRO as Fundraiser of the Year. It is also recognized with the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency and since 1999 has distributed more than $38 million for worthy causes. In January 2021 it was among an elite group being named a Top Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits and was recently invited to teach for Unite2021, a world-wide event for nonprofit organizations.

AmFund’s signature silent auctions featuring once-in-a-lifetime experiences, that are good for three years with no black out dates, are presented at organizations’ special events - drawing admiration, praise and excitement as the entire process elevates the event in the eyes of patrons, board members and the community. This year, it introduced AmFund VIP, a virtual silent auction that is becoming the “go-to” fundraising option for nonprofits. New in 2020 was the added benefit of the AmFund electronic bidding platform that offers exceptional tools to heighten fundraising opportunities – all at no cost to AmFund’s chosen partners.

Leveraging more than two decades of fundraising experience, AmFund provides expert training on a wide variety of topics and offers subject matter expertise through its Speaker’s Bureau for groups ranging in size from 12 to 500.

For more information, visit or call (407) 895-8000. Read AmFund’s blog at and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.



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