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A Big Heart by Mike Papale,
Chapter One:


Sitting in the front row of the bleachers, at age 17, without warning, I slumped to the ground. Blackness. Silence. Nothing. I died. 

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Conor Meehan, 17, lowered his gaze from the basketball camp game playing out before him to his best friend suddenly lying at his feet. 

“Haha—very funny, Mike,” he muttered, nudging him with his shoe. “Stop messing around.” 

Mike didn’t move. The gym, full of young kids, turned into mayhem. The game stopped.

Realization washed over Conor, and he raced for help. He burst outside the gymnasium doors to find Mike’s father, Mike Papale, Sr., in the Wallingford Parks and Recreation Center’s lobby. Panic rising, Conor quickly relayed the scene. Mike’s dad went white, and he sprinted toward his seventeen-year-old son’s lifeless body. 


“Mike!” he shouted. 

But Mike Papale did not respond. He wasn’t breathing. His skin was a ghastly blue. A crowd gathered around the Papales as the chaos continued in the gym. People were running and screaming for help. No one knew what to do—least of all Mike’s dad, who watched helplessly as his son lay motionless on the polished floor. Someone called 9-1-1. Another lifted Mike’s feet into the air, thinking this might help. Somebody else brought a fan over to try to cool him down. No one realized at the time that Mike was clinically dead—he had suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

Cool air and elevated feet would do nothing for him. His only hope to revive was CPR and the shock of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). But no one knew CPR, and there was no AED onsite. Unbeknownst to those rushing to Mike’s aid, with each passing minute his odds of survival dropped precipitously.

Statistically, sudden cardiac arrest has a roughly ninety percent survival rate if a shock is administered within one minute. Survival odds plummet another ten percent with each passing minute without defibrillation. Mike was already five minutes post-cardiac arrest. 


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A Big Heart - Paperback

  • Author-signed copy. 

    As a teen, Mike Papale had one dream: to play college basketball. He was laser-focused—training like an Olympic hopeful to make his dream reality. Out of nowhere, his world changed. August 24, 2006, while coaching a summer camp basketball game, he slumped over, unresponsive, turning blue within minutes. He was 17 and had gone into cardiac arrest. With no AED on-site, he was given a one-in-a-million chance to survive. 

    He was soon diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM, which, left undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. At the time, he was crushed–processing the life-altering news he would never be able to play competitive basketball again. He quickly realized he was fortunate to be alive, and redefined his life’s purpose.

    A Big Heart brings you on Mike’s story of reinvention, hope, and survival—inspiring you to battle adversity and live the life of your dreams.

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