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Nominate Your Hero Today!

The Heroes for Young Hearts awards recognize individuals who demonstrate a continuous commitment in their local community to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in youth by taking specific actions that support the Parent Heart Watch (PHW) mission of protecting youth from Sudden Cardiac Arrest and preventable Sudden Cardiac Death. Nominees are not required to be Parent Heart Watch members.

Categories include

Advocacy Champion Medical or Allied Health Professional 
Advocacy Champion—Adult (must be 21 years of age or older)
Advocacy Champion—Youth (must be 20 years of age or younger)
Young Survivor Champion (must be an SCA survivor 25 years of age or younger)
IMPORTANT: Nominations should be for one (1) individual per category and must include specific details of the actions taken by the nominee between October 2019 and October 2020 to support the PHW mission (i.e., organized 3 community heart screenings, placed 50 AEDs, research that helps advance our cause, etc.) to be considered by the Nominating Committee. Awards will be presented on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at PHW 16th Annual National Heart to Heart via our virtual platform. If you have any questions, please call 800.717.5828 or email to contact@parentheartwatch.org.

Nominations now open. Submit your nominations with supporting information here by Sunday, November 15, 2020.

Past Champions

Sharon Grason

Sharon Grason

SharonGrason - Heroes for Young Hearts

2020 Medical Professional Advocacy Champion

Sharon is the Director of the Georgia Gwinnett College School of Nursing. In her efforts to have her campus recognized as Heart Safe, she developed tools and departmental collaborations that orient all staff to the reality of SCA, and annually train over 500 personnel in how to save a victim. She helped implement cardiac emergency response protocol for all the sporting facilities on campus—which has already made a lasting impact when the life of a construction worker was saved from SCA. Using Georgia Gwinnett College as a template, she plans on making all Georgia Public Colleges and Universities Heart Safe campuses. In support of Sharon and her initiative, the Georgia College and University Provost of Student Affairs stated: “All of our campuses are smoke free—we can make them Heart Safe.”

John Cobb

John Cobb

JohnCobb - Heroes for Young Hearts

2020 Adult Advocacy Champion

“Making the Difference” is John’s social media hashtag, and he is making a huge difference along the Gulf Coast. As the owner of Coastal Emergency Medical Skills, John has been known to teach people more about CPR/AED use in a five-minute demonstration than most learn at certification classes. Always on the road, he remains available to support Heart for Athletes. As a board member, he adds tremendous value to their screening initiatives through hands-on instruction. He truly has a gift to make people feel empowered to save a life, which PHW members have benefitted from at the last two conferences. His love, passion and gift for training resonates in his commitment to ensure that communities are Rescue Ready.

Nigeire Poyser

Nigeire Poyser

NigeirePoyser - Heroes for Young Hearts

2020 Youth Advocacy Champion

A stand-out Ribault High School football player, Nigeire was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening heart condition three years ago and had surgery to correct WPW. Since then, he has volunteered to help screen thousands of other athletes, been a spokesperson for preventative heart screenings on local news stories and has led a Duval County-wide heart screening event, recruiting dozens of volunteers and helping to educate participants about the critical need for primary prevention practices. He is an inspiration and wants to help protect his peers, using his superpowers of charisma, public speaking and determination for good.

Blair Allan

Blair Allan

BlairAllan - Heroes for Young Hearts

2020 Young Survivor Champion

Blair, 16, suffered sudden cardiac arrest while running on her high school track with the cross country team. A nurse who was watching a nearby field hockey game saw Blair collapse and ran over to see if she was ok. She immediately realized Blair was having a SCA and started to administer CPR, then told a bystander to retrieve an AED. When the AED arrived Blair was shocked twice. The underlying cause of Blair’s SCA remains unknown. Now living with an ICD, Blair never asked “Why me?” but instead used this catastrophic event to help raise awareness of SCA in youth. Christy Silva met Blair when the young survivor was speaking at a high school about SCA, CPR, AEDs, and how the school’s investment in six saved her life. Blair began working with Aidan’s Heart Foundation, participating in the annual training of over 1,100 6th grade students and speaking on behalf of Pennsylvania’s Act 35 to ensure schools have access to AEDs.

 

Evan Ernst

Evan Ernst

EvanErnst - Heroes for Young Hearts

2020 Local Advocacy Champion

Evan co-founded Who We Play For (WWPF) after the loss of his friend and soccer teammate, Rafe Maccarone. Under Evan’s leadership WWPF screened 12,727 youth in the past year, of which 477 were flagged for follow-up—10 having heart surgery in the last six months. Evan led the effort of ECG screening policy for student athletes that has been adopted by Brevard, Osceola and Calhoun County public schools with more on the horizon. WWPF also placed six AEDs and provides ongoing support to college chapters that engage students in SCA prevention. All this was accomplished while working on his Masters of Science in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania, which he attained in May 2019.

Thomas DeBauche

Thomas DeBauche

ThomasDeBauche - Heroes for Young Hearts

2019 Medical Professional Advocacy Champion

Dr. Thomas DeBauche started heart screening in his local Houston-area school district on a voluntary basis in 2007. He donated $50,000 in portable ECG machines to nine high schools so athletic trainers could perform ECGs on student athletes. Dr. DeBauche read the ECGs, and at no cost did echos on youth

with abnormal results through his practice. This success led to the founding of a nonprofit organization called Cypress ECG Project, which has since joined forces with the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation. Over the last decade, Dr. DeBauche has overseen more than 125,000 screenings,

interpreting the majority of the ECGs personally. What started in a single school district grew to touch more than 275 schools across Texas and beyond. Dr. DeBauche has testified on behalf of screening before the Texas University Interscholastic League and the Texas legislature. He has been featured on numerous local news programs and published his findings in various journals.

Amy Walker

Amy Walker

AmyWalker - Heroes for Young Hearts

2019 Adult Advocacy Champion

Amy Walker inspired a movement in her small rural community to protect the hearts of student athletes. Concerned about their risk for SCA but knowing resources were limited in a one-high-school, one-hospital town, Amy rallied her community and created Heart of a Husky—a program that provides free ECGs and sports physicals for local high school athletes. Amy convinced dozens of doctors (some adamantly against preventative ECGs), volunteers and local sponsors to dedicate their Saturday to providing free ECGs. The local school board was so pleased with this community-wide initiative it made Heart of a Husky an annual requirement to participate in school sports. Neighboring rural counties are following Amy’s lead with thousands more students now being served. Amy helps organize, recruit and rally dozens of healthcare providers, coaches, parents and students to create their own “Heart of” programs, which both raise awareness and engage their communities in SCA prevention.

Xavier Hendrix

Xavier Hendrix

XavierHendrix - Heroes for Young Hearts

2020 Youth Advocacy Champion

Since his diagnosis of WPW at a Who We Play For screening at Southeastern University in Florida, Xavier, a pre-med student, has championed SCA prevention with courage and determination. He’s recruited volunteers and worked himself at many screenings, where he easily relates with calming sincerity to the young athletes he’s screening. He’s presented to his classes and demonstrated an ECG screening, as well as been a resource for the local news station. He’s featured in a video that was presented to Southeastern University’s board of directors, and his story will be shared at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) at their 2019 conference. In the new year, he will bring his passion and commitment to SCA prevention on an overseas medical mission trip as well as Florida’s Camp Boggy Creek (free, safe camp for seriously ill youth) during Cardiac Week. After three procedures to correct his own WPW, Xavier remains passionate and anxious to the change the mindset of the stakeholders in SCA prevention.

Women’s Auxiliary

Women’s Auxiliary

WomensAux - Heroes for Young Hearts

2019 Local Hero Champions

Dana Holden, Sherri Juniel, Melody Stephens & Amy Travioli. These four families in Central Texas have a child either lost to SCA or who survived an SCA event. While this is the club that no one wants to belong to, these moms have banded together to support their mutual efforts to prevent SCA. All four have their own foundations, and so have formed what

they call The Women’s Auxiliary to help and support each other. If one has a heart screening, another will help with the CPR training, a third will run registration. They hype each other in the media, they

share successes, they offer encouraging words when the work gets to be too much. Even though they would never have met except for the way SCA has touched their lives, and even though they live on opposite corners of Central Texas, these women have formed a support network and a friendship bonded by their mutual passion to save lives. In just the last 12 months they have screened more than 12,000 young people, trained 3,000 in CPR and AEDs and increased awareness to thousands more.

Lexi Sima

Lexi Sima

LexiSima - Heroes for Young Hearts

2019 Young Survivor Champion

Parent Heart Watch is familiar with Lexi and her story as she was featured in last year’s video: Friends Don’t Let Friends Hearts Stop. Lexi had a sudden cardiac arrest while working out at her local fitness center and was saved by a bystander’s quick action. What PHW may not be familiar with is the incredible amount of work Lexi has put in for SCA prevention, which has included setting up and leading heart screenings across Central Florida and volunteering at approximately 50 events. Her determination to screen youth, according to her pediatric cardiologist, literally saved her best friend’s life when a screening detected a heart abnormality. Lexi has continually shared her story of survival, lending her voice to the cause through six news stories and dozens of presentations. She joined with her family to lead the initiative to change Brevard County to include CPR as a high school requirement, and later with her family lead the initiative to pass a law in Florida mandating CPR education in the state—a feat thought impossible by an American Heart Association lobbyist.

 

Bob Page

Bob Page

BobPage - Heroes for Young Hearts

2018 Medical Advocacy Champion

Because of Bob Page’s impassioned plea to EMS and all of health care to stand up for our kids, PHW has been receiving inquiries from EMS about starting screening programs in their community. In his presentation Bob covers the major causes of teen SCA and describes through a six-point action plan the screening that should be done on all of teen athletes. Bob is an internationally known speaker, instructor, author and paramedic. He is recognized for his energetic, humorous and motivational style. He has been an instructor for over 4 decades teaching a variety of adult education courses from customer service to advanced medical care. As a nationally registered paramedic, critical care paramedic and a Nationally Certified EMS Educator he has been involved in EMS since 1978. His passion began when he became a CPR instructor as an Eagle Scout (1976). He remains active with his son, Aaron, as an Assistant Scoutmaster.

 

Mike Papale

Mike Papale

MikePapale - Heroes for Young Hearts

2018 Adult Advocacy Champion

Mike is a sudden cardiac arrest survivor. His event happened at the age of 17 while coaching at a basketball camp. No one started CPR and there was no AED on site. Luckily for Mike, someone did call

9-1-1. There was a volunteer EMT working next door who got the call on his pager, and came to the gym to find Mike on the ground, turning blue. He performed CPR perfectly saving Mike’s life and sustaining him until the ambulance arrived with an AED. Doctors told Mike that based on the circumstances that day, his chances of survival were one in a million. In 2015 Mike founded In A Heartbeat to help prevent sudden cardiac death and to expand medical knowledge about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). In just two years, In A Heartbeat has donated 28 defibrillators and raised $14,000 for HCM research.

 

Julie Walker

Julie Walker

JulieWalker - Heroes for Young Hearts

2018 Adult Advocacy Champion

Julie lost her daughter, Peyton, to SCA at 19. Co-founder of The Peyton Walker Foundation, Julie has made remarkable progress in increasing awareness and survival rates of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in

South Central Pennsylvania. Julie has worked strategically with community members, healthcare organizations, media and corporate partners, including the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association – District 3, which encompasses 125 senior high schools with over 82,000 students. A

major component of this campaign is a public announcement made prior to the start of all sporting events indicating the location of the AED. The foundation has donated over 35 AEDs throughout the community, as well as screened and provided AED & CPR demonstrations to 600 youth, plus certified over 90 adults. Julie runs the foundation while also owning and managing a meeting and event planning firm. Her emotional investment to save other families from this heartache benefits so many.

Jenna and Landry Overton

Jenna and Landry Overton

LandryGirls - Heroes for Young Hearts

2018 Youth Advocacy Champions

Jenna (24) and Landry (14) have competed in pageants for more than four years. With a

younger brother, Brooks, who was diagnosed at five with a congenital heart condition, these

young women quickly learned that not all families get to prevent a tragic end to a fatal heart condition. The sisters dedicated their pageantry to promote preventative heart screenings and AED placement, calling their platform “A Heartbeat Away.” They have used Parent Heart Watch resources to support

their message through speeches and appearances to North Carolina and Washington DC legislators, civic groups and at community and media events. The sisters also co-founded a community service group called Serving Our Seniors. Through the USA Ambassador System, Jenna received the Silver Presidential Service Award and is poised to be further recognized by as a North Carolina and Miss Central Carolina USA Ambassador and Miss Southern Regional Miss Heart of the USA. Landry leads her high school Rotary IMPACT group, where she works with her peers and nursing staff to educate students on SCA warning signs and prevention. She has earned a Gold Presidential Service Award and is also poised to be recognized by National Junior Miss Heart of the USA and Miss Junior Teen Central Carolina USA Ambassador. She plays three instruments plus travel softball, has done ballet since age three and is an honor scholar.

Kenny, Lisa and Morgan Wilson

Kenny, Lisa and Morgan Wilson

Wilson - Heroes for Young Hearts

2018 Local Hero Champions

Lisa and Kenny’s son, Cory, was lost to SCA in 2013 while attending Georgia Southern University. As Lead

Nurse for the local school district, Lisa understands the critical need for immediate response to a cardiac

emergency, but Georgia Southern had only a handful of AEDs and no organized response plan. Lisa, Kenny and Cory’s sister, Morgan, founded the Cory Joseph Wilson Memorial to raise awareness of

sudden cardiac arrest in youth. The foundation funds AED donations to the Savannah Chatham County police department, camps and schools, including Georgia Southern, which now has 144 devices on campus. In addition to making area schools heart safe, Lisa was part of a Georgia Senate study committee to develop a designated Heart Center system for the state of Georgia. The Wilsons also recorded an SCA awareness video for the American Heart Association.

Clint Sperber

Clint Sperber

ClintSperber - Heroes for Young Hearts

2017 Allied Health Professional Advocacy Champion

Clint Sperber is the MPA Health Officer & Administrator of Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County. He has worked with the Jessica Clinton MVP Foundation and supported their heart screenings for the past four years. Clint truly believes in our cause and provides local resources through his connections within the health community. Each year he grants use of the local health department facility, in addition to supplies and volunteers to support heart screening events. This partnership in SCA preven­tion so inspired Clint that he submitted an abstract that he will be presenting to the State Surgeon General, his executive leaders and to the National Association of County City Health Officials. This abstract supports a model of connecting the health department community with local motivated foundations to provide free heart screenings. Clint Sperber is a true champion and for someone who has not suffered the loss that many of us have, to be as committed and dedicated to saving lives, is most admirable.

 

Melinda Murray

Melinda Murray

MelindaMurray - Heroes for Young Hearts

2017 Adult Advocacy Champion

Melinda has been a long-time board member of Parent Heart Watch, helping to drive the vision to eliminate preventable deaths and disabilities from SCA in youth by 2030. In the past year alone, Melinda has partnered with Karen Acompora on the Anyone Can Save a Life Program (ACSAL) in NY and between 2015 and the present time, more than 1300 students and coaches have been trained. She has partnered with Karen and the Hofstra School of Medicine in the development of a template to teach medical students how to teach Hands Only CPR and the ACSAL Program that they bring into schools.

Melinda is a co-founder of Heart Screen New York, which screened 720 students in the past year and which alone resulted in more than 1,000 people being trained in CPR and AED usage. She was a key advocate in helping New York State pass the CPR in Schools Bill and she has presented the Dominic A. Murray Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act to the New York State legislature. She has conducted several other CPR classes, including churches and schools, far too numerous to count, and she has additionally donated several AEDs. She is truly an inspiration to all who meet and work with her and she honors Parent Heart Watch and its mission each and every day.

N’jhari Jackson

N’jhari Jackson

NjhariJackson - Heroes for Young Hearts

2017 Youth Advocacy Champion

N’Jhari, age 14, is an athlete and Eagle Scout who has earned 117 merit badges. He knows firsthand the impact of heart conditions and sudden cardiac arrest and death. Most family members on his mother’s side of the family are living with cardiomyopathy and have ICDs and AICDs. Others have sadly died. His cousin is currently wearing a life vest at 22 years old. Due to his family history N’Jhari is being closely monitored by a pediatric cardiologist. This is the motivation behind an initiative he started to donate lifesaving equipment (AEDs) to schools to help treat athletes and others who experience sudden cardiac arrest on campus. He has worked to train and certify staff members in CPR/AED/First-aid and raised money to purchase the devices. He once refused to play because the team or field was not equipped with an AED. He is now teaming up with Saving Young Hearts to provide heart screenings for youth. He has already sought and secured funding to provide the screenings for free, promote the events and provide food and drinks to volunteers.

He has also engaged pediatric and adult cardiologists, EMS personnel and others in his area to give of their time and expertise at the screenings. N’Jhari shows empathy and compassion for others in all areas of his life, from his school to his church to area hospitals. In February 2016, N’Jhari was 1 of 10 scouts across the country to deliver the Boy Scouts of America 2015 Report to the Nation to congressional and government leaders.

Jenine & Phillip Dalrymple

Jenine & Phillip Dalrymple

Dalyrymple - Heroes for Young Hearts

2017 Local Hero Champions

After the loss of their 12-year-old daughter, Andra, in October 2010 to undetected Long QT Syndrome, Jenine and Phillip started Andra Heart Foundation. The Dalrymple family has since found out that Phillip (dad), and Andra’s younger sister, Grace, 16, have Long QT Syndrome. The foundation has provided heart screenings for 3,400 students in Arizona and Washington, and donated 13 AEDs to schools and other organizations. One of the things Jenine learned is that hydration is good for heart health. This past year the foundation donated hydration stations and water bottles to Flowing Wells Junior High, the school that Andra attended. They also launched Andra Heart Speaker Series to raise awareness and foster better prevention and intervention of SCA in children and teens, particularly in young athletes.

Claire Crawford

Claire Crawford

ClaireCrawford - Heroes for Young Hearts

2017 Young Survival Champion

Millions of people have seen Claire’s story of survival from a sudden cardiac arrest on October 13, 2015, thanks to a Facebook post the following February by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Project S.A.V.E. The post generated over 35 million views around the world, bringing awareness to SCA.

Upon recovery, Claire wanted to continue the exposure of SCA in youth. She partnered with her electrophysiologist to speak to Emory School of Medicine students about her heart condition, symptoms and misdiag­nosis prior to her SCA, striving to educate new medical professionals about the reality of undetected youth heart conditions and advocate for prevention.

Given the Cardiac Chain of Survival saved Claire’s life, she also spends ample time advocating for secondary prevention. She is partnering with Lord Wedgewood Charity of Birmingham, AL to raise money for AEDs and heart monitoring equipment. She’s worked with EMS Safety Services, Inc. of California for AED/CPR instructor and student training videos to be released later in 2016. Claire also participated in the American Heart Association Executive Breakfast to launch the 2016 Heart Walk campaign to raise money for AEDs to be donated to organizations in need.

Alan Goldberg & Sarah Turcotte

Alan Goldberg & Sarah Turcotte

SarahTurcotte - Heroes for Young Hearts

2017 Media Advocacy Champions

Alan and Sarah are producers for 60 Minutes Sports. They spent countless hours talking to PHW Board Members, parents, medical professionals, young athletes and others for a comprehensive and balanced story on the importance of prevention titled “A Heart of an Athlete” that aired on Showtime in 2016.

After graduating from NYU School of Journalism, Alan worked at CBS News, with a show called West 57th Street with Meredith Vieira and Steve Kroft. From there he helped start Dateline and then settled in for almost 19 years with 20/20. He joined 60 Minutes Sports in 2013.

Sarah has been with 60 Minutes since 2015, with a long career as a writer and/or editor for outlets such as ESPN.com, Fast Company, Bon Appetit, and many more.

Michael Loiz

Michael Loiz

Michael Loiz - Heroes for Young Hearts

2016 Allied Health Professional Advocacy Champion
Michael has been working in public safety for over 20 years. He is a licensed Connecticut Paramedic and National Emergency Dispatch Instructor. He operates a private public safety consulting firm and currently holds the position of Director of EMS and 911 for the Town of Stratford, Connecticut. In his role as Director of EMS and 911, Michael has worked hard to enhance sudden cardiac arrest response in Stratford through staff and community education, policy and protocol updates, and providing responders and dispatchers with the latest cardiac care technology. Stratford EMS has recently received several awards including HEARTSafe designation, Mission LifeLine Silver EMS and the Connecticut Governors Award honoring an organization that has enhanced understanding and support of the EMS system through their public service, community education and contributions to a city, town, region or the state as a whole.

Scott & Melody Stephens

Scott & Melody Stephens

Scott Melody Stephens - Heroes for Young Hearts

2016 Adult Advocacy Champions
Scott and Melody Stephens were married in 1983 after they finished their degrees at Texas A&M University. They had 3 children – Clay 28, Katie 25 and Cody – who died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in May of 2012 and was 18 at the time. Scott is a full-time real estate appraiser and owner of Scott Stephens and Associates, Inc. Melody has just begun her affiliation with ProjectAdam at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. After Cody was lost, Scott and Melody started a foundation to offer free ECG screening to Texas student athletes. Using some of Cody’s last words to his dad, the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation was formed in 2012. Since that time, the foundation has raised approximately $700,000 and has screened over 50,000 student athletes in collaboration with Who We Play For. Scott and Melody introduced Texas House Bill 767, which would require ECGs to be included with sports physicals twice in an athlete’s career, unless the athlete declines to be tested. It passed the Texas House of Representatives in the Spring of 2015, but failed in the Senate Committee. In keeping with Cody’s motto, Scott and Melody will continue their legislative efforts to “Go Big” in Texas.

Sameer Jafri

Sameer Jafri

SameerJafri - Heroes for Young Hearts

2016 Youth Advocacy Champion
Sameer Jafri founded Saving Hearts Foundation in October 2014 at the age of 18. He was inspired by the efforts of the EP Save A Life Foundation while he attended high school in San Diego. The mission of Saving Hearts Foundation is to provide free preventative heart screenings to youth in order to test for underlying heart conditions that may lead to sudden cardiac arrest. In addition, the Foundation strives to teach our youth how to perform CPR and use AEDs and works to place AEDs in schools and community centers that cannot afford to purchase them on their own. In just a year, Saving Hearts has screened nearly 1,000 people domestically and abroad. The Foundation has also worked to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest by speaking at various Los Angeles area high schools. In addition, because of a number of generous contributions by local community members, Saving Hearts is in the process of placing 4 AEDs in schools that previously had none. The entire Saving Hearts Foundation team is comprised of college students who are looking to be the future of sudden cardiac arrest prevention for many years to come.

Jack Cadigan IV

Jack Cadigan IV

JackCadigan - Heroes for Young Hearts

2016 Young Survivor Advocacy Champion
Jack’s story began in the summer of 2012. He went to Haiti with his father, a cardiologist, and sister on a medical mission trip to a remote trip to St. Rock, a remote village in the mountains in the mountains above Port au Prince, Haiti. Jack volunteered in an orphanage and helped out in the clinic, performing ECGs. His father secured an old donated ECG machine and used Jack as the test case. Jack wasn’t told until he returned home that his ECG was abnormal. After an echocardiogram it was discovered that he had a major congenital abnormality that went unidentified, even though he had seen seven pediatricians throughout his life. Jack required life-saving open heart surgery in October of 2012.
Two years later, Jack and his father learned about the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Foundation. They found out about Texas Bill 767 being sponsored by the Stephens’ and travelled to Texas to testify in support of the heart screening bill. Although it didn’t pass the Senate, Jack feels it’s his moral obligation to protect other kids from SCA. He plans to pursue a career in medicine.