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Bremen High School to screen students for heart defects

Bremen High School will be screening their students for heart defects. // WSBT 22 Photo

Bremen High School will be screening their students for heart defects.

This comes after a high school football player died on the field in 2013 from a heart condition. The Play for Jake Foundation has already made an impact at other schools.

To date, the foundation has screened more than 3,000 students throughout Michiana. What started out as a mother's worst nightmare has now become a tool to help other families stay healthy and most importantly, together.

Next week, Bremen High School will start their basketball season. The gym will be filled with students cheering on the home team.

Tuesday they'll gather in the gym for something most young people don't think about, heart screening.

"Our numbers say we always hope that we won't find anybody, but statistics show we will,” said Dan Bigg, development partner for the foundation.

Bigg says undetected heart conditions are the number one killer of public school students.

Julie Schroeder experienced that first hand. She lost her son four years ago after he collapsed on the football field from an undetected heart condition. He was 17.

She now carries on her son's legacy through the Play for Jake Foundation.

"I think through Jake's foundation and many other foundations whose parents have lost a child, decided hey this should not be happening let's do something about it," said Julie Schroeder, founder of Play for Jake Foundation.

About 75-percent of the student body has signed up to have their hearts screened at Bremen. The foundation says that's the largest percentage of students they've ever seen.

"That's no surprise to me. Bremen is a very caring community. Our students get involved. Our parents are very supportive and we're a big family,” said Bruce Jennings, Bremen High School principal.

Principal Jennings says a display in the gym has impacted the students greatly. It shows the faces of countless high school students who have survived and others who have passed from undetected heart conditions.

Tuesday, the Play for Jake Foundation will make sure no families at Bremen High School will have to suffer from a broken heart.

"If I can keep another family from feeling the pain I feel every single day, then we have to do something about it," said Schroeder.

The screenings will be conducted throughout the school day and will be completely private. Since the foundation began, at least 20 students were found with heart irregularities.

The organization runs solely off donations. If you're interested in donating to the Play for Jake Foundation, you can visit their website.

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