DEDHAM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — With Valentine's Day just one day away, Dedham High School was focused on hearts—heart health, to be exact.
The school teamed up with Mass Heartbeat and the 21 Fund for Heart Healthy Week to conduct free heart screenings for students.
The screenings came together because of the work of three groups of people who lost loved ones to undetected heart issues, all of whom have combined to keep the fatal illness from killing again.
Meghan McColgan, an athletic trainer at Dedham High, lost a dear friend at a very young age to an undiagnosed heart condition. Since then, heart health has been important to her.
"Cardiac screens have been near and dear to my heart, to try and get it into our schools," she said.
A student gets a free heart screening at Dedham High School Thursday. (Chris Fama/WBZ NewsRadio)
She teamed up with Mass Heartbeat and the 21 Fund, two groups that came together to do everything they can to stop heart issues from killing.
The 21 Fund was established to honor the memory of Joey Glynn, a local athlete who died from an undetected heart condition. But Dan Barry and the board members had one problem.
"For the first six months, we didn't know what we were gonna do with our funding," he said. "We knew we wanted to do something in Joey's memory."
A mutual friend introduced Dan to Mass Heartbeat, a benefit corporation that provides heart screenings, created after founders Pat, Jack, and Shane lost a friend to sudden cardiac arrest. Mass Heartbeat has screened over 2,000 kids in about 25 different communities, at high schools, colleges, and corporations.
"When we met up with Mass Heartbeat, we partnered up with them and it kind of seemed like fate," Barry said. "I can say that I'm honestly proud of it, I know the 21 Fund's proud of it. I think it's something that Joey would be proud of, too."
Now, with the groups' help and the means to do the screenings, they just had to convince the students.
"Some of them were a little scared," she said. "Like, what if I have something wrong with me?"
But Mass Heartbeat founder Patrick Cusinelli said the screenings are no big hassle at all.
"You pop your shirt off, we hook you up to ten electrodes, so essentially, it's a 30-second test," he said.
McColgan said the students found it was less scary than they thought, and many signed up.
"We've exceeded our sign up goals that we wanted," she said. "I always wish we could have more, but even if we catch one kid that has a heart condition that they don't know about, then this was a huge success."
WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports