These are words none of us ever want to hear but unfortunately, we hear them in competitive sports often. Jose Cerda was a swimmer and water polo player who died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at the same pool where we practice. After Jose’s death, his mother founded the Jose Cerda Aquatic Foundation (JCAF) which supports many high school aquatic programs throughout Ohio. We learned of this foundation through swimming and water polo.
After hearing about Jose’s story, we learned that this has happened to many student athletes. A surprising statistic shows a sudden cardiac event occurs in athletes once every 3 days in the U.S. Cardiac screening was offered at our school for anyone who wished to be tested. We were shocked to see very few kids signed up since it is a quick, easy, and painless way to determine who is at risk.
The State of Ohio recently passed Lindsey’s Law, a law implemented to help raise awareness of underlying potentially fatal heart problems in young athletes. Since young athletes look so healthy, people would never consider that their heart could be a ticking time bomb. CPR and the rapid use of a defibrillator do not have the same effectiveness in student athletes. This makes it essential to identify kids at risk and take necessary precautions when they have symptoms, especially during physical activity, in order to prevent deaths in young athletes.
Why don’t more kids get tested? We can think of several reasons: lack of awareness of SCA and its potentially fatal outcome, lack of concern that this could happen to them (thinking it is an anomaly), fear of testing, and price of testing. We decided that these cannot hold them back from a potentially life saving discovery.
We thought if we can create a program where the testing was readily available at athletic events and it could be offered for free, or at least a reduced cost, we could help save many student athletes.
With the support of the Cincinnati Marlins and Beacon Orthopedics, the “Heart of a Champion Project” was born.
Our goal is to provide 100 free ECG screenings/cardiology tests
These screenings would be made available to athletes participating in a variety of events.
Collected funds would go directly towards covering the cost of screenings. The cost per screening is $75. Our goal of 100 screenings produces a need for $7,500. Any excess funds collected would be directed to JCAF for future outreach.