Student brings free heart screenings to SHS SNOHOMISH - While his classmates might have been busy thinking about homecoming or Halloween, 16-year-old Mike Sanders was busy sending out e-mails to the district superintendent and setting up meetings with a nonprofit organization called the Nick of Time Foundation.
It’s a cause close to Sanders’ heart, and that’s why over the past year he’s worked to bring a free youth heart screening event to Snohomish High School to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest in his fellow athletes and classmates.
The cardiac screening for youth ages 14-24 will take place Wednesday, Nov. 7 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Snohomish High School gym at 1316 Fifth St.
As of last week, Sanders already had 150 kids signed up to take the screening, and he hopes that number will climb to 500.
“Kids from any high school can come; we aren’t turning anyone away,” Sanders said.
The screenings are intended to identify undetected heart conditions in youth, particularly student athletes, who might have an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
About 100 doctors from the UW Medical Center and Children’s Hospital will be donating their time at the event to screen the kids that come through, Sanders said. He even got sponsorships from local businesses Haggen and Starbucks.
An avid athlete himself, Sanders sees the screening as an important precaution for every young athlete.
He approached the foundation last year to see about bringing a heart screening to his school and worked hard to make it happen by recruiting volunteers from Snohomish Fire District 4, getting approval from the school district, and fostering community support by facilitating information tables at football games.
And all of this he fit around the already packed schedule of a high school football player who has interests in math and the school’s sports medicine program.
A hidden killer, sudden cardiac arrest will strike a seemingly healthy young person once every three days in the U.S., and according to the foundation’s website, it’s the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes.
“In most cases of sudden cardiac arrest, cardiac abnormalities are not detected, there are no warning signs, and unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within minutes, death is the end result,” according to the Nick of Time Foundation.
The foundation’s namesake, Nicholas Varrenti, was an active and ambitious 16-year-old who died from sudden cardiac arrest during a week of twice-a-day football practices at Jackson High School.
Sanders said his aunt and uncle volunteer for the foundation, which got him involved. He’s never organized anything or done anything quite like this before, but it seems he’s doing an excellent job leading the cause for his school.
Will he continue this type of work in the future?
“I really hope so,” Sanders said. “I think it’s a really cool thing to do.”