Mom’s mission: Raising awareness for sudden cardiac arrest syndrome
As a mother, Cartechine shared that passion with her son Alex.
Just by singing and playing the piano, she said it brings her closer to her son.
“When I sing now, and I see his pictures, and I feel his presence, it’s just a connection that we shared,” Cartechine said.
Alex, 21, died suddenly last December.
On the outside, he was perfectly healthy.
“He came home from work, took a shower and literally just dropped and died,” she said. “He had sudden cardiac arrest.”
The family later learned Alex had a condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
One in 300 young people has some type of heart condition.
“This could happen to your kid,” Cartechine said.
Sudden cardiac arrest has less than a 7% survival rate. There are only seconds to save a life.
Cartechine is still grieving, but through Who We Play For, she is now leading the charge to eliminate these deaths in young people through affordable heart screenings.
The organization began after Cocoa Beach High soccer player Rafe Maccarone went into sudden cardiac arrest right before a game in 2007. He died the next day. His friends started the Play For Rafe Foundation, which later changed to its current name.
It helped Cartechine realize she wasn’t alone. Cartechine met 19-year-old James Gibson through the group.
He was flagged at high risk during a heart screening to play basketball. Gibson had visited a cardiologist, who diagnosed him with the same condition as her son.
Now the cardiologist performs screenings on young people to make sure they are in the clear.
“Unfortunately, until we let enough people know about it, that they should be screened, it’s going to continue,” Cartechine said.
Screenings performed recently at Titusville High are just some of the 30,000 the group performs each year.
“It’s just good knowing that no kid has to die and not know why, or their parents not know why, to catch that (condition) that so they have a little bit of a buffer,” Gibson said.
Who We Play For wants to partner with schools, sports clubs, colleges, parents and other organizations to perform heart screenings. The organization can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.