Sean Fisher Memorial Foundation provides free heart screenings to students at Waldwick High School
WALDWICK, N.J. -- For American Heart Month, a school in Waldwick, New Jersey is making sure students are screened to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.
It's made possible by the parents of a teen who didn't have that opportunity.
On Aug. 25, 2008, Sheila and James Fisher were celebrating their son's 13th birthday before he collapsed at football practice and tragically died.
"He had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an over-enlarged heart," said James Fisher. "Which we learned after the fact."
The couple established the Sean Fisher Memorial Foundation in their son's memory. It provides free screenings for undetected heart conditions for students.
Over the next two days, the foundation will be at Waldwick High School, which Sean would have attended.
The heart screenings are done by registered cardiac sonographers with the MCORE Foundation. They include an ultrasound and electrocardiogram, or EKG.
"We screen probably between 5,000 and 6,000 kids a year and we currently see an abnormality rate of about 5.5 percent," said Lisa Tennenbaum, executive director and CEO of the MCORE Foundation. "We want to give people valuable information so that they can look at their child's heart health and understand how to manage it."
The Sean Fisher Memorial Foundation has been helping students with screenings for 14 years and plans to continue for many years to come.
"We're saving lives. Over the 14 years we've saved over a dozen students who have been identified with some type of heart condition. Most of them have gone on to live productive lives," said Waldwick High School Principal Kevin Carroll.
"You never know what could actually be wrong with your heart. Sean Fisher never had any symptoms until he collapsed that day," said freshman Andrew Del Rey.
"This heart screening could save your life," said freshman Luke Feltman.
"It just makes me feel more safe when I play sports," said freshman Dominic Lisanti.
The Fishers said they won't stop pouring their hearts into saving lives and encouraging parents to prioritize screening.
"Sneakers cost a couple of hundred bucks these days. For $80 to have your kid's heart tested, this way you have the peace of mind that he has a healthy heart and he's walking around the rest of his life with a healthy heart," said James Fisher.
"To save another parent from this devastating loss ... it's priceless," said Sheila Fisher.
They're pushing for the state to pass legislation so all students can be tested at no cost.
The Fisher Foundation has also had screening events at Paramus High School and Wallington High School.
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