April 30, 2009 started out just as every other day. Except, I was excited to be going away for a weekend in Florida with my sister! Before I left for my trip I made sure to wake each of my children to say goodbye and to tell them I love them. I wasn't going to wake them that day, but "something nagged me to go ahead and just do it. I am so glad that I listened to that voice in my head because unbeknownst to me, that would be the last time that I would ever be able to tell my son, Robby, that I loved him. I had no way of knowing that before the day ended, my outwardly healthy 15 year old son would be dead, and my life would be changed forever.
Robby died of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) caused by an undiagnosed heart disorder called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), or Athlete's Heart. HCM is a disease where the walls of the heart begin to thicken. The harder the athlete works out, the harder the heart works to pump the blood and just like with any other muscle in your body, the harder you work it, the bigger it gets. Eventually, the walls of the heart get so thick that they cut off the supply of blood from one side of the heart to the other, causing Sudden Cardiac Arrest. HCM is THE most common cause for sudden cardiac death in athletes in the United States. It is indiscrimate as to age, race or gender. Thousands of seemingly healthy youths suddenly and unexpectedly die, or suffer severely debilitating consequences due to undetected heart conditions. But, for however scary HCM may seem and for as fatal as the condition is, HCM can be easily diagnosed. Unfortunately, I did not know until it was too late.
I still didn't feel that I was doing enough, however. So, I joined an organization called Parent Heeart Watch. Parent Heart Watch is the national voice solely dedicated to protecting our youth from Sudden Cardiac Death. The group is comprised of parents around our country who have lost a child to SCD. In January 2011, I went to their conference in San Diego and became the Illinois State Coordinator for Parent Heart Watch. It is my job to reach out to families and schools who lose children to SCD in Illinois. Also, as a member, it is my job to raise awareness of this silent killer.
One thing I have done this year to advance awareness is to start Bobbo's Fund for Young Hearts. Our mission is to reach out to as many people as possible and educate everyone about HCM and combat this silent killer. We want to eliminate these preventable deaths so no other family goes through what we have gone through.
This past Mothers Day, Bobbo's Fund held its *First Annual Bobbo's Walk for Young Hearts. We had 131 registered walkers and the funds raised surpassed our original goal of $5,000.00. Because of the generosity of those involved, not only will we be able to sponsor heart screenings, but we will be donating our first portable AED unit to Reavis High School this year.
The volunteers at Bobbo's Fund prefer to donate portable AED's because they can be kept right on the playing field and can travel with the teams to away games. Portability is key because the accessibility of an AED is crucial to the survival of a SCA victim. For every minute that passes, they lose 7% of their chance of survival. So even if the EMT's reach the victim within 5 minutes, they have already lost 35% of their chance to survive. We plan on hosting this walk every year so if you missed this years event mark your calendars for next Mother's Day. We also have a few other fundraisers in the planning stages. To learn more about Young Hearts for Life or Parent Heart Watch you can go to their websites at www.mhcfoundation.org and www.parentheartwatch.org respectively.
Thank you and please
JOIN US AND HELP SAVE OUR YOUTH FROM SUDDEN CARDIAC DEATH
This article was written by Laura Regalado in loving memory of Robert "Bobbo" Regalado for the Nottingham Park Newsletter entitled "The Encourager".
Since Robby's death, my husband and I have struggled to find a reason why God would take our son. He had so much potential. We were very angry at first. Why Robby? He was such a good kid. All he ever did was help people. I never really knew how much he helped people until he died. So, I started thinking, "What would Rob want me to do about this?" And we got our answer. God took Robby because he knew that Robby had touched so many people in his short life that his death would raise awareness to this silent killer. I realized that I needed to help make sure that another family does not have to suffer from this type of tragedy. That is what Rob wants me to do, so I am doing my best to help others.
My husband and I started volunteering for an organization called Young Hearts for Life. Young Hearts brings qualified medical volunteers to high schools. They provide free EKG screenings to identify high school students at risk for sudden cardiac death. *Young Hearts has screened over 60,000 students since it's inception in 2006 and many young lives have been saved because of this program.
FOR YOUNG HEARTS
*NOTE: Since the writing of this article, Young Hearts for Life has screened over 100,000 students and identified over 1100 with heart conditions.
Also, Bobbo's Fund has held 5 walks, donated 4 AED's and sponsored 2 YH4L Screenings were 14 students were identified with a possible life threatening heart condition.