SUGAR LAND – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2,000 young, seemingly healthy people under age 25 in the United States die each year of sudden cardiac arrest.
On Saturday, close to 500 student-athletes received a free heart screening thanks to the Cody Stephens Foundation and KPRC 2 sponsors. The simple heart test is saving lives.
Free heart screenings for student-athletes in Fort Bend County
It’s an opportunity that’s already making a big difference.
The Cody Stephens Foundation and the Sugar Land Fire Department say they are taking steps to save the lives of young athletes from hidden heart defects.
President Scott Stephens created the organization after his son Cody died from an undetected heart condition just weeks before he was set to graduate from Crosby High School.
“If a student has a problem, they may not even know about it even though they’ve had an athletic physical all their lives,” Stephens said. “Cody did. [But] Cody never had the opportunity to do this, and we are glad to present it today.”
Student-athletes were given a free ECG test that evaluates the heart and uncovers potential problems.
“I’m here to play football at St. Pius X High School, and I want to make sure my heart is healthy, and I will be able to play,” Evan Morales said.
It was something very important for Sara Autenrieth and her family who recently had a loved one experience a heart problem.
“At 15 years old, just a few months ago back in March or April, he was running sprints at the high school and basically just dropped. Thankfully his athletic trainer acted quickly,” Autenrieth said.
“It kind of scared me a little bit knowing that I could randomly pass out one day. So I’m thankful that we were able to come out here,” student Drake Autenrieth said.
About 1.3% of athletes have an unknown heart condition that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. The mission of the Cody Stephen’s Foundation is to find them, so they live long, healthy, productive lives.
“Last year, we screened 273 children at our screening and seven of those were referred to the Cardiologist for follow-up care,” Battalion Chief Cindy King said.
On top of the free screenings, students and their families were able to learn CPR thanks to Sugar Land Fire and EMS.
“You never know when you may need it,” King said.
Since the Cody Stephens Foundation started 10 years ago, they’ve provided 160,000 screenings for students. To learn more about the foundation, click here.