June 10, 2023

UMW Alumna’s Quick Thinking Gets National Attention

When Lauren Kornacki performed CPR in the garage of her parents’ home in Glen Allen, Va., she was focused on one thing: saving her dad’s life. She never imagined that the story would later end up making national headlines.

UMW alumna Lauren Kornacki (right) performed CPR to save her father’s life

Kornacki, a 2012 graduate of the University of Mary Washington, found her father in the garage, pinned under a car and unresponsive. She was able to lift up the car enough to free her father, and performed CPR to save his life. A nurse at VCU Medical Center, where Kornacki’s father is being treated, was so moved by the story that she contacted the local television station.

“It’s my dad,” Kornacki said, noting she doesn’t think she deserves the attention. “I would do anything for him.”

Instead she hopes to turn the new-found media attention from her own inspiring story to the importance of CPR.

“I’m trying to get people to realize CPR is such an important thing to know,” she said.

Now in her sixth year as a lifeguard, Kornacki has taken CPR training at least five times, including once last semester as part of her job as an intramural supervisor in the UMW campus recreation office.

All intramural supervisors are required to have current certifications in first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillators (AED), Director of Campus Recreation Mark Mermelstein, said.

“It’s so important for our programs because situations do happen and you have to know that our staff is prepared to handle them,” he said. “Lauren is a prime example.”

“We take pride in her work for campus recreation, but that means nothing compared to what she just did for her dad,” he said.

Lauren Kornacki ’12 played center for the UMW women’s basketball team for three years

A physics major, Kornacki spent three years as a center for the UMW basketball team.

“Lauren is such a great young woman,” said Deena Appleberry, women’s basketball coach.  “She’s the type of person who thinks on her feet. It doesn’t surprise me at all that she would make the right decision in a minute or less.  She’s so courageous and heroic.”

Kornacki encourages everyone to have a familiarity with CPR, since as in her case situations often arise without warning. In fact, she said her family members intend to take refresher courses as soon as her dad is out of the hospital.

She said her family is grateful for the community’s outpouring of support since the accident.

“My former classmates, roommates and teammates have been checking on us,” she said. “Knowing those people are there for us is unbelievable.”

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.


  1. What an amazing story and very inspirational. For Lauren to know cpr in such a situation saved not just some stranger’s life but her father’s life.