BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The organization "Who We Play For" that started in Brevard County over a decade ago by a group of soccer teammates after one of their own passed away following a warm-up routine held ECG screenings at Space Coast Iceplex on Saturday morning.
- Rafe Maccarone died at 15 after warm-up routine
- Brevard County student athletes required to have ECG or opt-out form
- More Brevard County headlines
- More Health headlines
Executive Director Evan Ernst says his friend, 15-year-old Rafe Maccarone, would be alive today if ECG's were part of the annual physicals back in 2007.
"Twelve years ago our teammate collapsed and died on the soccer field at Cocoa Beach High School to a detectable heart condition missed in the sports physical,” Ernst explains.
Alexa Sima, 20, learned about three years ago how quickly things can change while doing routine exercise.
"While I was running I actually suffered from sudden cardiac arrest, so one second I was doing something I've been doing everyday of my life to the next second I (almost) died doing that thing," Sima says.
Over the summer new rules were put in place for about 12,000 student athletes. All student athletes for Brevard Public Schools are required to have an ECG or an opt-out form for grades 7-12.
BPS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Who We Play For. The agreement started on April 24, 2019 and expires on April 23, 2024, but it can be renewed for successive terms.
It takes about five minutes and most importantly it's pain free, and as Sima explains, it can prevent sudden cardiac arrest which is the leading cause of death in sports.
"There's no pain, it's just stickers. If this can give you the chance to save your life or your kids, there shouldn't be anything stopping you to get it," Sima said.
The ECG's cost $20 instead of the average $150 and up.
"Since the summer we've screened around 5,000 student-athletes in Brevard. We've had about eight kids have open heart surgery for life-threatening heart conditions and had many more with minor abnormalities," Ernst said.
To date, more that 113,586 hearts have been screened, almost 100 lives saved and counting.
The ninth annual Cocoa Beach High School "Play for Rafe" alumni soccer game is set for November 29. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
Proceeds will benefit the Cocoa Beach High School soccer program and the Rafe Maccarone Memorial Scholarship. Registration is scheduled for 5 p.m. with game time at 6 p.m.
Registration is $25 online and $30 the day of the game. Registration includes a jersey, wristband and sticker.
The Cocoa Beach men's soccer team has retired the No. 6 in memory of Rafe.