Danny Rumph was considered one of the best and brightest young basketball talents in the Philadelphia area before he tragically passed away in March of 2005 at 21 years old from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.
Shortly after he died, his uncle, Marcus Owens, and mother, Viola “Candy” Owens, along with a number of close childhood friends set out to keep his legacy alive and use his story as a means to help the next generation.
By that summer, they started the Daniel E. Rumph II Foundation as a way to bring awareness to the prevalence of heart troubles in young people with a driving mission of saving the next bright star.
The first main action that the foundation took was to put automated external defibrillators (AED) into local gyms and recreation centers. An AED is a portable device designed to help people suffering from sudden cardiac arrest and can save lives.
Philadelphia’s fire department received a multi-million dollar grant that allowed them to upgrade all of their equipment. Because of the grant, the fire department donated all of their old AEDs to various rec centers across the Philadelphia-area.
From the start, the foundation had built a relationship with the city council and the fire department, according to Marcus, just to let them know the work they were trying to do.
“We knew it was a big hill but we just wanted to focus on rec centers where there are gyms, pools and places with a lot of activity,” he said. “When they got the money to upgrade all their stuff, they turned back and blessed us. They refreshed [the AEDs] and donated them all to the rec centers.”
The next initiative surrounded improved education in the community in the form of CPR training. Early on, they partnered with Joseph Russell from CPAT Network to have people come take CPR classes paid for by the DERII Foundation.
Now, they have the ability to refer a greater number of people to the organization giving them a discount on training that would make more people in the community CPR certified.
The third prominent course of action was connecting with a program called Youth Heart Watch, a program led by Dr. Victoria Vetter out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia aiming to prevent sudden cardiac death among children and adolescents.
On multiple occasions they’ve set up free heart screenings at the Danny Rumph Center, formerly known as Mallery Recreation Center, and other recreation centers in the area for anywhere between 50 and 200 kids. People that respond to the foundation’s clinic also have the option to go directly to CHOP to get heart screenings as a preventative measure.
Volunteers from CHOP and the DERII Foundation come together setting up stations in the rec center to check blood pressure along with running electrocardiogram (EKG) tests and echocardiogram tests to scan for a number of potential heart conditions.
“It’s a beautiful thing with a lot of volunteers coming together and doing it for the cause,” Owens said. “They love doing it, it’s an amazing day when we do it. Everyone leaves with such satisfaction.”
He added there have been several instances where kids have come through their screenings, picked up on potential issues and who have been taken on as patients by Dr. Vetter.
Annual cookouts, food drives, toy drives and fundraising parties are all added bonuses to the work that Rumph’s family and friends are doing to honor his legacy and impact their community.
From a basketball perspective, Owens is grateful that the tournament is a chance to bring the whole city together. On the humanitarian side, the foundation has gone to great lengths to make the world a better place.
“We’re this grass roots foundation from the community, for the community,” Owens said. “We’re doing everything that we can do to help.”
Although the Rumph Classic draws the biggest crowd and is the premier fundraising event for the DERII Foundation, the work is still being done the other 11 months of the year in an effort to save the next bright star.