Smith-Purcell Family Foundation supports community-wide heart health


The LincolnWay Community Foundation is celebrating heart health month by highlighting the work of the Smith-Purcell Family Foundation, an endowment fund that has been contributed toward the purchase, service and replacement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for Central DeWitt Community Schools and the DeWitt Theatre Company.

Brent Smith of DeWitt started the fund to give back to the community after his daughter, Finnley, was born with two congenital heart defects. “You would never know Finnley had any issues if you see her today, thanks to the University of Iowa’s Pediatric Cardiology Team, neonatal intensive care unit, and so many more amazing people,” says Smith.  

The No. 1 cause of death among young athletes, and the leading cause of death on school campuses, is sudden cardiac death. The evolution of screening protocols in newborns means few heart conditions go undetected today. “Therefore, instead of putting funds toward screening children for heart defects, our focus has shifted toward emergency response,” says Smith. “That is where we can have the greatest impact on saving lives today.”

Through the family fund, Smith has worked to support Central DeWitt Community Schools in becoming the first certified “Heart Safe School” in the state. This designation is given to schools that meet stringent criteria for cardiac emergency response, particularly around training and access to AEDs in every school and at every extracurricular event, home or away. 

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, survival rates double or triple when bystanders provide immediate intervention. “Our goal is to educate the community on sudden cardiac death in youth, support training in CPR and the use of AEDs, and facilitate funding to expand where needed and maintain the AEDs in the community,” says Smith. 

The LincolnWay Community Foundation offers many opportunities to improve quality of life by addressing an array of local issues. To learn more about how you can establish a fund or make a gift that impacts your community, contact Executive Director Amanda Willimack at 563-212-2812 or email