WBTV partnering with CMS and CMC for the Second Annual Heart of a Champion Day

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - WBTV is on your side helping to keep athletes with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) safe while on the field.

This year we are partnering with CMS and Carolinas Medical Center for the second annual Heart of a Champion Day.  It takes place next month.

The event will offer free sports screening for athletes and it will include a high tech way to check the heart condition of about 2,000 students.

One CMS student says the exam came in handy for him last year.

"When they first told me I had something wrong with my heart, I was kind of nervous, but I got it checked out," said Craig Raye, an athlete at Butler High School.  "It wasn't really serious. It made me play harder cause I knew nothing was wrong with my heart."

Students will have to register for this exam.  It's free and transportation will be provided.

* * *

(The following information is from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools concerning the 2nd Annual Heart of a Champion Day.)

Registration opens for second annual Heart of a Champion Day

Organizers hope to screen 2,000 CMS student-athletes during free event

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 29, 2009 - Registration opened April 29 for the second annual Heart of a Champion Day event. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has partnered with Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Children's Hospital, Sanger Clinic and OrthoCarolina to provide free sports screenings to 2,000 rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Heart of a Champion Day will take place on May 30 at the Carolinas College of Health Sciences, located on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center (CMC), 1200 Blythe Boulevard.

"Last year's event was a huge success," said Dr. Peter C. Gorman, CMS superintendent. "The generous donations of time, equipment and money meant that nearly 900 of our student-athletes received a complete sports screening for free. This year, we hope to reach twice as many student-athletes."

In an effort to reach more CMS student-athletes, this year's registration has gone paperless. Families may go to a new Web site, www.heartofachampionday.org for information on the event and to fill out the required permission forms and a medical questionnaire.

"We wanted to make sure all our student-athletes had the opportunity to take part in this event," said Vicki Hamilton, CMS director of athletics. "Last year, students had to bring paper forms home, have them filled out by a parent or guardian, then return them to their athletic director. Moving to an online system should make the registration process easier for everyone involved."

During Heart of a Champion Day, students will receive a free general sports screening, musculoskeletal check and a vision examination. The screenings are unique because they also include an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram to check for heart conditions that could potentially cause sudden death during athletic competition. Neither of these heart tests is part of a routine athletic screening.

"We were thrilled to have this opportunity last year, and we plan to take advantage of it again," said Berlissa Raye, whose son, Craig, is a junior at Butler High. Craig plays football and basketball, and runs track. "We take him for his regular physical every year, but it doesn't include this kind of in-depth screening of his heart. You hear of athletes dying of heart conditions on the field, and we wanted to make sure Craig was part of Heart of a Champion Day."

All students screened as part of the 2008 Heart of a Champion Day were eventually cleared to participate in sports, but staff did discover a number of students with medical conditions, including high blood pressure, uncontrolled asthma and multiple concussions. Orthopedic conditions included scoliosis (curvature of the spine), shoulder overuse and the need for continuing rehabilitation from previous injuries or surgeries.

"We are gratified that we didn't find any students with a potentially life-threatening heart abnormality," said Herbert Stern, M.D., director of pediatric cardiology at Sanger Clinic and the Charlotte screening's founder.  "However, we did advise several students to follow up with a cardiologist for minor conditions that need to be monitored over time."

The screening is not intended to replace a student's regular physical exam with his or her doctor. But it will meet North Carolina High School Athletic Association requirements that students must be medically checked before they can participate in any organized sports.

Also new this year, organizers plan to collect and analyze electrocardiogram and echocardiogram data to see how the results could be used to protect other young people from heart issues. All of the data will be anonymous and may be shared as part of a larger research study in an effort to bring the Heart of a Champion Day program to school districts across the country.

"This is a unique program, and the largest, most comprehensive screening of its kind in the Southeast," said Dr. David Price, associate director of CMC's Sports Medicine Program. "We hope to help other communities take what we have learned and use it to find any medical conditions or injuries that could affect student-athletes' ability to compete safely before something happens on the field."

Funded through grants from the Carolinas HealthCare Foundation, the second annual Heart of a Champion Day will be staffed by more than 400 doctors, clinicians, nurses and other community members. All are volunteers.           

Parents of participating students must pre-register and complete the online medical questionnaire by midnight on May 26. Students will be required to take CMS buses from their high schools to the event. Each participating high school will be assigned a specific screening time to evenly distribute student volume throughout the day.

Boys and girls will be separated for the screenings, which will take approximately 15 minutes per student. Doctors will review the results and help provide appropriate follow-up if needed.