February is National Heart Awareness month which brings attention to the community partners that support heart health and awareness. One such organization is Living for Zachary (L4Z). Living for Zachary’s mission is to raise awareness and prevent sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in youth. The organization was founded in honor of Zachary Schrah, who was only 16 years old when he collapsed without warning during a high school football practice in Plano on April 2, 2009. After Zachary’s death, his mother Karen founded Living for Zachary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in June of 2009.
Since its inception, L4Z has impacted thousands of families and children across Texas through youth heart screenings, AED donations, CPR/AED certification classes, scholarships, and awareness events. They have donated 518 AEDs, screened 10,500 youth, and trained 2,700 in CPR/AED certification. In the relatively short history of the organization, they have held 680 public awareness events in North Texas.
The mission of L4Z is so critical because sudden cardiac arrest in the #1 cause of death of youth on campuses, and #1 cause of death among student athletes.
One of the programs L4Z offers is the Living for Zachary Heart Screening. This is a special screening program created and provided by Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano for youth ages 12-22 that can help detect heart abnormalities that may lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The heart screening includes an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and a blood pressure screening. L4Z offers free youth heart screenings throughout the year in the DFW metroplex.
Living for Zachary also donates Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, to youth-based organizations in Texas. This life-saving device plays a crucial role in resuscitating someone who has collapsed due to SCA. Organizations who wish to apply for an AED must work directly with youth ages 12-22, demonstrate a financial need for an AED, exhibit a lack of AED coverage for the proposed facility, and be located in Texas.
To find out more about Living for Zachary, schedule a heart screening, or apply for an AED, please visit www.livingforzachary.org.