Home | Archive | Place Classified | Subscribe | Where to Buy | About | Contact

Search only Ripley News

May 28, 2013

S. Ripley students screened for cardiac issues Two "red flagged" for further tests

Mary Mattingly


A South Ripley students undergoes an electrocardiogram as part of the heart screening recently at the school. Giving Hearts a Hand is a screening program founded by South Ripley graduates, Doug and Cortney Meyer.

What you don't know can kill you.

Doug Meyer learned at age 15 he had a heart condition, one that could kill him should he overexert himself. A South Ripley High School athlete, he learned this through a routine sports physical when his blood pressure showed up much higher than the previous years. After several tests, he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle and best known as the cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

It's not as rare as it sounds. A Michigan teenage athlete collapsed on the basketball court two years ago and died of it. The tragedy got lots of publicity, which was beneficial because it increased awareness of this silent killer. However, new research suggests death from cardiac arrest in younger athletes may be occurring more often than previously thought: It's actually the leading cause of death in young athletes today, according to research from Sport Safety International.

Meyer also added the Michigan fatality, "Triggered us to go forward with a foundation for cardiac screenings. That week there were news headlines of five kids that died. I've learned though that thousands die every year from various heart conditions," the 34-year-old said from his home in Greenwood. As a result of his diagnosis, Meyer changed the focus of his athletic pursuits and ended up with a golfing scholarship. He did play varsity basketball but remained conscious of how he felt physically because of his condition. He continues that practice today with any activity he conducts. "But if I had not known, who knows, I may have been the story on the news," he said.

The past two years, the Meyers have developed a cardiac screening organization called Giving Hearts a Hand, with the idea to fund the screenings of young athletes. It was launched last May, and the couple started visiting high schools to spread the word and help financially with screenings.

Recently, with the added sponsorship of Margaret Mary Health, Christ Hospital and the Ripley County Community Foundation, they had 33 young athletes screened at South Ripley High School and gave 122 vouchers (for free screenings) at two other Indiana schools. A donation from the Emily Mathes family also helped. Emily was a S. Ripley student athlete who died from an ATV accident last May. Meyer would love to see all of the Ripley County schools participate in some way.

Dr. Santosh Menon, a cardiologist with Ohio Heart and Vascular Center at Christ Hospital, helped conduct the EKG and ECHO screenings at the high school. Research indicates 1 in a 100 will have this condition.

Margaret Mary Health verified that two of the student athletes had been referred for additional evaluation for their EKG tests because of electrical activity for their heart. Dr. Menon had evaluated the echocardiograms, and they all checked out ok.

Dr. Menon commended Meyer's charitable organization, calling it "a great thing!" From his experience, he is concerned that people opt out of the screening because of the cost or because they are afraid of losing out on potential dollars from a star athlete. A negative cardiac report like this would end a career, and it could also mean rejection from insurance companies, Menon noted. Nonetheless, he feels it could save a life.

There is a hereditary factor, and Menon advises those in particular to get screened. He commends the Meyers and hospitals for helping reduce the financial burden. The cost of such screenings can be a couple of hundred dollars.

Doug Meyer and his wife Cortney, both 1997 S. Ripley graduates, are happy to focus efforts on spreading the word and provide screenings through the heart organization. While they didn't detect any abnormalities with the local students, he commented, "Ideally you hope not to find any" but the message is to at least look for it.

"My goal is for it to be part of the routine sports physical, but I know cost is a factor. So maybe we can find other ways to fund it," to reduce the cost, Meyer said. (Meyer is also the son of SR principal Bob Meyer.)

Donations are accepted through their organization. Go to the website at www.givingheartsahand.org, and there is also a mail address listed as well.

Milan 2004 graduate makes Lonestar roller derby team

Submitted Article

Jenna Johnson

If you want to keep up with Jenna Johnson's fast-paced life, you may have to wear wheels on your feet, no kidding. Her parents, Gary and Diana Johnson of Elrod, say Jenna has always been rough and ready, but had no idea that she would one day become a Lonestar Rollergirl.

Growing up with boy cousins her age, she had to learn to hold her own in any family undertaking. Backyard tackle football, putting up hay or roofing the cabin on Grandpa's farm were common tasks of her country upbringing. She was a high school athlete, playing volleyball and girls softball.

Looking for a job after graduating from IU, she never imagined that she would be spending most of her free time sporting skates, a helmet, and multiple bruises. Jenna had never skated until just over two years ago

She took a job in Austin, for video game developer, Trion Worlds. Watching Whip It in her new apartment, she realized that the movie was based in Austin. Jenna was hooked after attending her first bout between the Holy Rollers and the Hellcats teams - she was so enamored that she bought her first pair of skates and all the gear that night!

Many visits to the local skating rink and practices on her employer's parking garage roof, Jenna found banked track skating classes at the Thunderdome. Jenna formed an incredible camaraderie with the other girls in her class. She made it into new girl training three times. Jenna practiced hard, took more classes, and was inducted into TXRD at the end of 2012 as a Hired Gun (an alternate for the roller derby teams).

Jenna has since been chosen for all six of this season's bouts as an alternate - constantly preparing for every bout since induction into the league. May 18 was the mid season draft and Jenna is one of three to make a team. She is now a Cherry Bomb team member and very proud.

Jenna finds the sport a form of therapy and refreshment. She says derby is her antidote for any bad day at work or bad mood.

A British feature, Trans World Sport, visited the Lonestar Rollergirls and you can view it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkI5UW9as38 The website www.txrd.com will explain the history of the league, teams and list the current and past members, schedule and even allow you to live stream bouts over the internet.

To read these and more articles pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican at your local store or subscribe by clicking on the link above or by calling 812-689-6364.
Ripley Publishing Company, Inc.
115 S. Washington Street
P.O. Box 158
Versailles, Indiana 47042
Phone: (812) 689-6364
Fax: (812) 689-6508
Email: publication@ripleynews.com
© Copyright 2013 Ripley Publishing Co. Inc.