AUBURN – The American Heart Association announced that the Hilton Garden Inn at 14 Great Falls Plaza will receive an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) through Philips Medical Systems and American Heart Association volunteer Ray Gamache.

Gamache, owner of Merit Pools and Spas, has been the Central/Western Maine Heart Walk’s top fund-raising walker for the past three years and has had the honor of placing an AED in his community each year. He participates as part of the Androscoggin Bank team with the help of his wife and bank employee, Joan Derocher-Gamache.

For the 2002 walk, Gamache raised $5,623 and placed an AED at St. Dominic Regional High School. In 2003, he was the top walker again and raised $4,700 to place the most recent AED at the Hilton Garden Inn.

In 2004, he outdid himself again and raised close to $7,000 to support life-saving research and education. He will be able to place a third AED in his community once a location is chosen and approved by the American Heart Association.

Gamache involves his customers by donating costs of some of his services as a corporate donation to the event. He also writes letters to his customers, who he calls “extremely supportive” of his efforts with the Heart Walk, to request personal donations to support his fund-raising efforts.

This year, he is raffling off a new spa with all proceeds going to the American Heart Association. Tickets can be purchased by calling Merit Pools and Spas at 622-6792 or by stopping by their location at 9 Orchard S. in Augusta.

Lucas Hartford, president of the Hartford Agency and 2005 Central/Western Maine Heart Walk chairman, congratulated Gamache for his efforts.

“Thanks to Ray and all of our committed volunteers, our community raised about $134,000 in the 2004 Heart Walk last September and we are hoping to reach our goal of $152,000 this year.

“We are thrilled that Philips Medical Systems is donating another AED for the 2005 Central/Western Maine Heart Walk to be held on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Montello School in Lewiston. This prize will be placed in the community of the 2005 top fund-raising walker.”

Area businesses, nonprofit and religious organizations and educational institutions from throughout Central and Western Maine can register and shoot for being the top walker at this year’s event.

Anyone wishing to sign up as a team captain or as an individual participant can call the association at 1-800-937-0944 or visit www.americanheart.org to register on-line. Philips Medical Systems information can be found at www.medical.philips.com.


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