During a heart screening in Frisco ISD last Fall, NBC 5 covered the event and interviewed me about heart screening and how it works in Frisco. At the time I thought, this is cool and maybe we’ll get some traction in the DFW area from this. Over the next couple of days, I had multiple phone calls and emails from School Nurses and Athletic Trainers interested in screening at their school. One such email came from Hannah Hill, with the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). She was excited to see what the Athletic Trainers were doing to provide student athletes with a potentially life-saving heart screening. After a few conversations with Hannah about showcasing a North Texas Athletic Trainer, I knew exactly who I had in mind: Jose Mendez at Melissa ISD.
I had previously worked with Jose the year before, when he was an Athletic Trainer at Athens ISD. Like many ATs I’ve worked with, he has a passion for the health of his student athletes. Jose carried that passion with him from Athens to Melissa, where he started his second heart screening program in two years. Between the two schools, he has had his hand in screening 622 students, and helped further the GBOGH tag line “Screen ’Em All”.
In highlighting Jose’s heart screening programs, NATA was very interested in hearing testimony from students who had been screened. I was tasked with gathering testimonies of students who had an abnormal ECG, students whose lives were subsequently saved to share with the NATA.
Reading the testimonies from the families of those our screening program has saved, further solidified the importance of why we do heart screenings. These stories parents told all start the same: my child is healthy, they’ve passed their physical. And they end with: the doctor told me that if my child’s heart had not been screened, the results could have been much different.
None of these stories are possible without Athletic Trainers like Jose, or the Hannah Hills of the world who promote the student-first mindset of AT’s.
Our drive and passion all start from different motivations, but the goal remains the same: Educate communities, and Screen ’Em All!!!
-Nathan Schwarz, Heart Screening Director for North Texas