Red Cross Presents Lifesaver Award to USA Judo's Leilani Akiyama

April 23, 2014, 4:47 p.m. (ET)

March 5, 2014 was a day that will be hard to forget at the VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa in Colorado Springs, especially for Jim Ungvarsky and Leilani Akiyama.  On this day, several members of the club were participating in a contest to see how many pushups they could do, but what seemed harmless suddenly turned into a matter of life and death. Fortunately, Akiyama was there to help!

Club member, Jim Ungvarsky, went into cardiac arrest during the contest and collapsed on the floor within a few minutes.  Akiyama, along with two other employees of the VillaSport Athletic Club, Billy Thompkins and Bobby Bernal, put their skills into action and went into automatic rescue mode to help Ungvarsky, who was revived after assessing CPR and defibrillating his heart using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED).

The 2016 Olympics hopeful and team USA Judo member, Leilani Akiyama, is now recognized by the Red Cross with the Lifesaver Award for aiding in bringing Jim Ungvarsky back to life“When it happened I just went into action,” she said. “I knew what I had to do and just did it.” Akiyama takes this opportunity to emphasize the importance of knowing CPR and the difference that you can make in somebody’s life. “You have to be ready and able to act.”

Having completed a full recovery following surgery, Ungvarsky is back at the club and ready to participate in more community activities. He gratefully remembers the tragic events of March 5. “They saved my life and I will never forget that,” he expressed.

As Part of the USA Judo team, Leilani Akiyama is currently in Ecuador, together with 19 other judo athletes, representing the USA at the Pan American Championships.

Source: Fortune, B. (2014, April 10). Red Cross presents Lifesaver Awards at VillaSport Athletic Club in Colorado Springs. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from