Modern Stafford Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation

Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation

Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was established in loving memory of Gwyneth Griffin, a Stafford teenager who tragically passed away in 2012 after collapsing on the school track. Gwyneth’s life may have been saved with early and sustained CPR, and it is the Foundation’s steadfast commitment to ensure that others do not face a similar fate.

Driven by a mission to create a Culture of Action and empower communities, Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation focuses on raising awareness about the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). By advocating for Hands-Only CPR and increasing access to AEDs in public facilities, the Foundation strives to double or triple survival rates for individuals experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.  To date, Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation has trained over 18,000 people in hands-only CPR and deployed 121 AEDs throughout Virginia.

In 2023 a mural in honor of Gwyneth Griffin was unveiled within Garrisonville Elementary School’s memorial garden.  It serves as a beautiful tribute to Gwyneth, her compassionate spirit, and her parents’ dedication in transforming their heartbreak into a profound triumph by championing Gwyneth’s Law.  The mural, funded by the Stafford Museum and Cultural Center, Stafford Education Foundation, Garrisonville Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization, Garrisonville Elementary School Staff, and Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation, embodies the caring spirit Gwyneth exemplified in her life. Designed with vibrant and oversized flowers symbolizing strength and healing, the artwork aims to inspire all who encounter it.

Gwyneth Griffin mural

Symbolic elements within the mural include three envelopes gently floating through the scene, which provide information about Gwyneth herself, Gwyneth’s Law, and the intention behind the memorial garden. The mural serves to honor the memory, educate, and raise awareness about Gwyneth, the importance of taking action, and the ongoing mission of Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation.

About Gwyneth Griffin

It happened on an ordinary day for 12-year-old Gwyneth Griffin of Stafford, Va. She had a mild heart murmur and was born with a congenital heart defect — bicuspid aortic valve with stenosis — but she saw her cardiologist regularly and was cleared to do all the activities she loved: ballet, jazz, lyrical and her favorite, Irish dancing.

Gwyneth’s cardiologist thought the shortness of breath could be from the demands of the middle schooler’s busy schedule. Several months later, Gwyneth and her father, Joel, attended a healthy teen-living event at her middle school. Joel went to watch his younger daughter at field day, while Gwyneth joined her friends at the track. After she ran one lap around the track, Gwyneth collapsed.

No one was able to perform CPR, so her friends immediately sent students to find the principal, a nurse, an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and Gwyneth’s dad.

“My husband arrived at the scene to find Gwyneth with no pulse,” Jennifer says. Normally, the school had an AED at the back of the gym. That one couldn’t be found, so someone ran to get the school’s second AED, which was in the front office.

When Joel got the AED, he followed the instructions and shocked Gwyneth twice. She regained her pulse.

Gwyneth spent seven weeks in the hospital as physicians worked to repair her organ systems. Her heart wasn’t strong enough for her to be taken off of sedation. The only way to give her a fighting chance was to put her on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) — a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs.

Ultimately, it was determined that Gwyneth suffered a devastating and unrecoverable brain injury caused by the amount of time that passed after she collapsed. She passed away in 2012 at the age of 13.

“All of this was because, in the period of time between her collapse and my arrival on the scene, no one did anything,” Joel says in an American Heart Association video about his daughter.

The Griffins are working hard to increase CPR training and the number of AEDs in communities. Their work has resulted in Gwyneth’s Law, which was passed in Virginia in 2013.

Gwyneth’s Law has three components:

  • AED placement in all schools
  • CPR training for teachers
  • CPR training as a high school graduation requirement

The governor of Virginia signed the law in March 2013, with the first two components going into effect immediately. Since the law was passed, four lives have been saved as a result of people receiving CPR training. The student-training component of Gwyneth’s Law is on track to be enacted in Virginia in the 2016-17 school year, and the state should have 75,000 trained individuals by next year. So far, 27 states require students to be CPR-trained. One of these is Maryland, where a child saved his sibling at home within one week of CPR training.

In December 2015, Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation — the actionable arm of Gwyneth’s Law — officially became a 501c3 non-profit organization. Through the Foundation, Jennifer and Joel focus on helping underprivileged and rural schools gain access and funding for AEDs. They also continue to advocate for the awareness and importance of CPR training for everyone. Scholarships will be provided to high school students and will one day include medical students studying cardiology, traumatic brain injury and neurology.

More information: Gwyneth’s Gift | Creating a Culture of Action (