I need to begin by saying thank you to Jennaphr Frederick, Josh Weisman, Brian Kadunc and Representative Mike Vereb. The universe brought all of us together on April 14, 2011, and as a result, we are here today making a huge difference in the lives students.
Representative Vereb, a big thanks to you (and your staff) for your tireless efforts. We did not realize the champion we were getting that day we met in your office. Governor Corbett, thank you for your leadership and support on this issue. With your pen stroke here today, you will save the lives of children.
A good friend of ours always says that we are members of a club that no one wants to join. Phyllis and I became members of that club on January 24, 2005, when our three month old son, Simon, died. There are other club members here today – the Rodgers Family, the Silva Family and the Frazier family. It was Akhir Frazier’s story that brought me to Representative Vereb’s office.
Like in all clubs, the members get to decide what they want to get out of it. Our choice was simple. We wanted to make sure that we were the last members of this club. We don’t want you to join. We want your kids to be safer. This bill is a manifestation of our choice.
We believe that there are three approaches to tackling sudden cardiac arrest and death in children. These approaches are not mutually exclusive. They work together, in concert.
The first approach is DETECTION. We need to discover these conditions before they hurt our children. Simon’s Fund works with schools and organizations to provide free heart screenings. To date, we’ve checked almost 4,000 hearts and helped at least 38 students discover potentially life threatening heart conditions. Some of those students are sitting here today.
This weekend, we’ll be at the Liacouris Center with the Athlete Health Organization to provide free sports physicals for over 1,000 high school students in Philly. Every student will receive an ECG exam.
The second approach is REACTION; how do we respond when a child collapses. By having AED devices spread throughout our communities, and a population that knows how to perform CPR, we will save lives when sudden cardiac arrest strikes.
The third approach is EDUCATION. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act accomplishes this. Representative Mike Vereb summed it up best – he said that sudden cardiac arrest is now a household term. Parents will now be AWARE that sudden cardiac arrest kills at least 2,000 students every year and they’ll guard against it.
Coaches will now be AWARE that fainting is not acceptable and Gatorade is not the remedy. As a State, we will take these symptoms seriously and do a better job of protecting our children.
This is a tremendous step forward in our quest to save young lives. We are so proud to be a part of it.
I’d like to close on a personal note. Phyllis and I cherish this moment. Simon would have been in first grade this year, positioned nicely in between our daughter, Sally and our son, Jaden. We are so happy that they are here with us today.
We’re never going to get to go to Simon’s soccer games, choir concerts or graduations. Our moments with him are limited. This bill signing is one of those moments. This is our ceremony for him.
Finally, I want to share a phrase from one of our favorite songs.
You’ll be with me; Like a handprint on my heart. And now whatever way our stories end; I know you have re-written mine
This legislation will be the handprint of Simon and Representative Mike Vereb on the hearts of children throughout Pennsylvania.