About Mike Papale

Speaker, Cardiac Arrest Survivor, College Basketball Coach, Philanthropist, and HCM Patient

As a teen, I had one dream: to play college basketball. I was laser-focused, training like an Olympian, with hopes of making my dream a reality. Then, out of nowhere, my world changed. On August 24, 2006, while coaching a summer camp basketball game from the bench, I slumped over, unresponsive, turning blue within minutes and taking my last agonal breaths. I was 17, and had gone into sudden cardiac arrest. A volunteer EMT, working next door gave me CPR, sustaining and saving my life while the ambulance raced to the scene. The EMTs arrived and immediately used their automated external defibrillator (AED) to restore, or “shock” my heart back into rhythm. The longer you go without being shocked, the lower your chance of survival. With no AED onsite, my chance of survival was one in a million.

I was soon diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM, a genetic condition resulting in the thickening of my heart muscle. Left undiagnosed and untreated, HCM can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) as it did for me – or worse, death. Because the SCA put me in the highest risk category, doctors permanently implanted a defibrillator. I was crushed as I processed the idea of a device living inside my body and the life-altering news that I would never be able to play competitive basketball again. But I quickly realized I was fortunate to be alive, and began making some adjustments.

I became a volunteer and spokesperson for the American Heart Association. My new goal was to be a college basketball coach. I have been lucky enough to coach at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Quinnipiac University, and Southern CT State University. I founded the In A Heartbeat Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to prevent death from cardiac arrest and to raise money for HCM research. I started sharing my story of reinvention, hope, and survival, speaking in front of audiences of all sizes.

Today, my dream is to remind anyone facing a challenge: we are all capable of rising from the ashes, changing our way of thinking, turning tragedy to triumph, and attacking our dreams.

Mike Papale has spoken to groups ranging from 30 to 2,000 people. Whether delivering his powerful “Attack Your Dreams” keynote speech, lobbying U.S. Congress in Washington D.C., or inspiring athletes, students, fundraising crowds, businesses, or other organizations, Mike is passionate about motivating and guiding his audience through the necessary steps to efficiently reach their goals and make the most of every single day.