Long Beach resident Anthony Cavallo had played volleyball for 17 years. A member of the Evolutions Volleyball league, Cavallo, 48, was in “good health” and among the hundreds of players who gathered on the beach on July 25, 2013.
Cavallo, who worked as a school bus driver for Atlantic Express in Brooklyn, and his wife, Heather, moved from Brooklyn to Long Beach in 2005, in part to be closer to the beach lifestyle that they had embraced.
“It felt like a community the minute we walked in the door,” she said.
During that Thursday night game, however, Cavallo suffered a massive heart attack and, despite efforts from bystanders to revive him on the beach, he was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital.
“They brought him to South Nassau, and they were able to get his heart beating again, but he had gone without oxygen for too long,” Heather said.
Cavallo passed away four days later, on July 29, surrounded by his family and friends, Heather said.
Now, Heather is working to prevent another tragedy on the beach. She and Cavallo’s family launched the Anthony V. Cavallo Foundation last September, and raised $6,000 to purchase four automatic external defibrillators that will be stationed on the beach during volleyball games and other activities over the summer.
“I wanted to so something to keep his memory alive, to have some sort of silver lining around a very dark cloud,” she said. “Our ultimate goal has been to have the A.E.D.’s at the ready in case of an emergency – it could quite possibly save a life.”
Three of the units were donated to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation on May 29; two A.E.D.’s will be on hand “at all times” during volleyball games run by the EEVB and Evolutions volleyball leagues to ensure that emergency assistance can be administered rapidly, while the third will be used at other recreation activities. According to Paul Ferrante, assistant superintendent of Parks and Recreation, the department’s assigned staff is Red Cross certified and trained to administer CPR, first aid and an A.E.D. unit.
“The City of Long Beach is grateful to the Cavallo family for their life-saving donation,” Ferrante said.
The fourth unit was donated to East Atlantic Beach, to be used at community events and gatherings there.
With the Long Beach Medical Center closed, Cavallo said that she is not sure whether her husband would have survived had the facility been open at time.
“I think it’s an unknown and no one can say one way or the other,” she said.
Cavallo said that she and her husband’s family are very grateful for the generous donations, help and support.
“It makes me feel great to know that it’s out there and I’m proud that we achieved this goal — it’s bittersweet,” she said. “[Volleyball] was Anthony’s passion and this was a way for me to do something for him.”