WEST JEFFERSON — Rising seventh grade through rising 12th grade athletes got a potential life saving heart checkup at Ashe County High School during the third annual Heart of a Husky health screening on Friday and Saturday.
Through a partnership between Ashe County High School, BREMCO and Ashe Memorial Hospital, these students received a free cardiac screening designed to catch a potentially serious heart condition that may otherwise go untreated.
“I have a niece with a heart condition and she actually collapsed on the track. So that’s when I started reading and learning about it and heard of a program in Charlotte that Cam Newton sponsored,” said Amy Walker, a 15-year educator at Ashe County High School. “I went down and met with them and they told me how things should run and we’ve had a lot of support from the community here.”
Scary events like that happen every year, and the hopes are that through the Heart of a Husky program, Ashe County athletes won’t fall victim to hidden cardiac problems.
According to Walker, over 500 young athletes took part in the screening this year with those numbers continuing to grow each and every year.
Along with a cardiac checkup, athletes also take part in a concussion screening, another hidden injury that could cause serious problems later in life.
While a sports physical is required for all athletes to play middle school and high school sports in North Carolina, Ashe County goes the extra mile to add the heart screening in addition to the typical sports physical exam.
“We added the heart healthy initiative to our physical and we’ve also added the concussion screening because we’ve had a lot of concussions and we want to make sure we take care of those issues,” said Walker.
The event would be impossible to pull off without the support of the community and the volunteers provided by Ashe Memorial Hospital. They are more than willing to help out with this great event.
“There are probably at least 30 volunteers each day that have come to help out with this event. All of our Ashe Memorial doctors have come through to help at the event,” said Melissa Lewis, an RN at Ashe Memorial Hospital.
“I think the first year we only saw 200 kids and now we’re up to 500. What we’re doing now is going above and beyond and if we can find that one kid that may need a referral and save that one kid then it’s all worth it,” said Lewis.
There were also nine Ashe Medics paramedics and staff that volunteered their time this weekend to help out with the EKG tests.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87