JOSH Caruso adored being around other people.
His parents, Joe and Belinda, say their much-loved son was an open-hearted, enthusiastic, sports-loving larrikin when he collapsed and passed away suddenly at the age of 13, while on his way to school at St Mary’s High, Gateshead.
‘‘He loved to surf and would never shy away from an adventure,’’ Mrs Caruso said.
‘‘He cared so much about others and always wanted to help people out.’’
Josh’s generosity of spirit continues to inspire his family, who have established The Joshua Caruso Foundation to raise awareness of the heart condition – familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – that took his life in August 2013.
‘‘We had no indication that Josh had this condition – he wasn’t born with any heart conditions, didn’t suffer any symptoms and was very active,’’ Mr Caruso said.
‘‘He was like every other 13-year-old, you couldn’t tell anything was wrong.’’
The foundation also raises funds to buy defibrillators and on March 24 will donate 10 of the machines to schools and sporting clubs, including St Mary’s Gateshead, St Francis Xavier’s Primary at Belmont, Wallsend Touch Football Association, Valentine-Eleebana Junior Rugby League Club, Newcastle City Touch Association and Newcastle Jockey Club.
‘‘If this [sudden cardiac death] can happen to a 13-year-old boy, it can happen to anyone, anywhere,’’ Mr Caruso said.
‘‘We hope that no-one has to use the defibrillators, but if they do, these machines could save a life at a school or on a sporting field. Performing CPR and using a defibrillator together gives someone a much better chance of survival.’’
Mr Caruso said he hoped the foundation’s continued fundraising efforts resulted in the purchase of more defibrillators to help prevent the pain of another family losing a loved one.
‘‘I think Josh would be incredibly proud of what we’re doing,’’ he said.
‘‘He’d love to be a part of it.’’
The Joshua Caruso Foundation Race Day will be held on March 28 at Newcastle Jockey Club, with details available on The Joshua Caruso Foundation Facebook page.