GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A life-changing event for the Edwards family sparked the idea to start a new non-profit organization in Greeneville. James and Michele Edwards lost their son Mattias when he was 12 months old after he choked while at a babysitter’s house.

“He was the sweetest, happiest little baby; so friendly, he didn’t know a stranger,” said Michele Edwards. “He smiled at everyone, he was so smart.”

Both Michele and James are paramedics, and with their medical experience and the loss of Mattias, the family decided to start the Mattie J CPR Foundation in April of 2023.

“The ultimate goal is to get as many people as possible trained in CPR,” said James Edwards. “We want to make sure this does not happen to any other family.”

James Edwards added that even if you are already certified in adult CPR, knowing how to save a child is different.

“There is a difference, CPR on an infant is very different,” said James Edwards. “There’s different hand placement and different breathing techniques as well.”

The Foundation currently offers three CPR classes for people in the community to attend at no charge. Those three classes are: AHA BLS CPR, AHA Heartsaver CPR and AHA Heartsaver CPR. There’s also a course in First Aid.

The Edwards family told News Channel 11 that they plan to offer more classes in the future, including one specifically focused on children and babysitting safety.

“You need to be trained in CPR and First Aid as a parent,” said James Edwards. “As a paramedic, when you call, even if we’re close, it still takes us a few minutes to get there and those minutes are precious and can be the difference between life and death.”

Mattias’ story is shared to show how quickly a life-or-death situation can occur.

“It makes me feel so good and knowing that his memory is never going to die,” said Michele Edwards. “He’s always going to be important and people are always going to remember him.”

The Mattie J CPR Foundation offers classes for both healthcare workers and non-healthcare personnel.

If you are interested in taking a free CPR class with the foundation or want to volunteer to teach a class, you can visit the Mattie J CPR Foundation’s website. Currently, classes are being offered in both Greeneville and Johnson City.