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Heart Screening Nurtures Gratitude

I didn’t know fully what I was getting myself into when I left a position with Lubbock-Cooper ISD and took on the job of Heart Screening Director for West Texas and the Panhandle with Cody Stephens Memorial Foundation.  Now, three years later, I can’t even begin to say how my life has changed and my gratitude nurtured. 

When I started, I was really concerned about not working with kids. As it turns out, I get to work with more of them, which is great. Even though I spend just minutes with each student, I still feel a connection with them. We have some amazing kids in the 1,031 school districts here in Texas! They might not always know what to expect from the heart screening, but they are always so very well behaved and polite.

But it’s not only the kids who have impacted my life and nurtured my gratitude, it’s also all the fabulous school employees that I meet and work with: School Nurses, Athletic Trainers, Coaches and even Athletic Directors and Superintendents! I’m privileged to call many of them “friend,” and we keep up outside of heart screening events - updates about our daily lives, kids, grandkids in some cases, and we are on each other’s prayer lists.  These exceptional folks are taking extraordinary steps to care for our kids and go above and beyond to keep them safe, healthy and happy.  

I am greatly indebted to all my amazing school “friends!” 

I have to say the most overwhelming experience is when I see one of “my kids” who was identified with a heart issue the year before, and they’ve had surgery or whatever corrective treatment was required.  It’s a no-brainer that there are lots hugs and tears! I am forever connected to these kids, their families, and my school “friends.”

I am sincerely grateful for this life-saving cause to “Screen ‘Em All”!

I can’t write about gratitude without mentioning Scott and Melody Stephens.  Here are two incredibly kind, compassionate and determined forces of nature! They have taken their tragedy of losing a son to pave the path to save all Texas students, families, schools and communities from suffering the devastation of losing a beloved child to preventable Sudden Cardiac Arrest. 

There aren’t words spectacular enough to express my gratitude to Scott and Melody!

-Jane Kitten, Heart Screening Director for West Texas and the Panhandle

Our heart screening in Memphis ISD identified Cordell with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, and he had an 8-hour-long surgery to correct it. His parents are eternally grateful to School Nurse Kelli Maddox for bringing heart screening to this tiny West Texas town. They're 30 miles from the nearest doctor or clinic, but Jane Kitten brought the screening to them. From left: Jane Kitten, Cordell and Kelli Maddox

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