To get a time slot for a heart screening Saturday at Pinecrest Academy, contact Cheryl Farkas at email@example.com.
Cheryl Farkas' son frequently received perfect attendance awards at Pinecrest Academy.
Matthew was in good health and rarely sick, playing football and basketball 11 months out of the year, she said.
But a rare, often undetected condition now prevents the junior from playing sports, though its detection saved his life.
After a regular pediatric visit, a nurse practitioner noticed that his heartbeat didn't sound regular and referred him to a specialist for an echocardiogram.
The exam showed the 16-year-old had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The genetic heart disease is the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes, who can collapse from the strenuous exertion while training or playing sports.
Saturday, the echo exam will be offered at Pinecrest Academy as part of the Heart Screens for Teens program.
While the exam can usually be a big expense, ranging from $900 to $1,500, the screening program provides the service for $58.
Farkas said the 10- to 15-minute exam usually given only to the elderly could be a lifesaver.
"Young people have it too, but you don't know who they are," she said. "It's a miracle that it was found [for Matthew]."
She said the time slots, which must be set in advance, are filling up, mostly with student athletes.
Farkas had asked the program return to Pinecrest to allow more teens the opportunity for screening.
Her son received the test from the program in 2004 and saw positive results, since the condition may not be detectable until sometime between ages 12 and 20.
The heart disease has stricken more athletes in recent times.
"The level of fitness these days is amazing," she said. "These kids push and push and push and work so hard. When I grew up, not too many kids were dropping dead from this."
Playing sports was a big part of the younger Farkas' life that he no longer wants to risk. The exertion from the frequent and tough practices could cause his heart to stop.
His mother said he's been dealing with the news well.
"His faith is really helping him," she said. "It's probably been difficult for him, but he's not mopey about it."
His classmates and school have been supportive as well, she said, with students taking refresher courses in CPR and the school receiving six defibrillators as a donation.