Heart Screening for Athletes is subject of Rotary talk

HIGHLANDS – Scott Stephens was the guest speaker at the Rotary weekly luncheon last week. He spoke about screening high school youth, especially athletes, for undetected heart defects that lead to SCA, or Sudden Cardiac Arrest and death.

Stephen’s son Cody died of SCA 11 years ago, in 2012 at their home in Crosby. A healthy looking high school senior, Cody died in his sleep while reclining in a chair. As a result, his father and mother started a foundation, the Cody Stephens Foundation, to provide ECG heart screening to other youth, to detect and avoid the problem that took Cody’s life.

Although still active in his business as a commercial real estate appraiser, nevertheless Scott has devoted his life to raise awareness of this silent killer and help prevent other families from experiencing the loss and heartache of losing a child to SCA.

Since Cody’s death in 2012, the foundation has raised over $1,000,000 to provide screenings and education in SCA. Over 172,000 young men and women have been screened, Scott says, and 196 lives saved.

In addition, the foundation has placed over 91 ECG machines in school districts, to help provide screening. This test checks for structural or electrical problems in the heart, and if found a referral to a physician for further help is made.

In 2019 Scott was able to get the Texas Legislature to adopt House Bill 76 (Cody’s football number) with the help of State Representative Dan Huberty and State Senator Carol Alvarado. As a result, every student now has the option of having an ECG heart screening as part of their athletic physical exam.

SCA or Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA usually causes death it it’s not treated within minutes. A simple electrocardiaogram (ECG or EKG) can detect major causes of SCA.

The Highlands Rotary Club has been a supporter of the Cody Foundation for a number of years, and club President Denise Smith presented Scott Stephens with a check as further indication of this support.