Parents invited to have ‘night out’ Friday and raise money for teen heart screenings

Matthew Truax
Matthew Truax

This Friday, parents can get a head start on their holiday shopping or have a child-free date night by dropping of their kids off at Meadowdale High School during the Parent’s Night Out babysitting fundraiser. The money raised will fund heart screenings at the school — motivated by the tragic death of Meadowdale student Matthew Truax in September due to an undiagnosed heart condition.

Parents can drop off their kids as early as 5 p.m. for a requested donation of $20 for the first child and $10 per additional child. High school students and parent chaperones will play games with the children, provide snacks and otherwise keep them busy until 9 p.m.

The event is open to any parents needing a night out, and adults supervising the evening assure safety precautions are in place, including the rule that people checking a child into the event will be the only ones who can check the child out.

“It’s going to be a very safe event,” said Maureen Over, parent of a Meadowdale student and a volunteer for the event. “It’s going to be fun.”

Money raised from Friday’s Night Out will go toward providing free cardiac screenings on Feb. 5 at Meadowdale High School. The screenings for Meadowdale students are offered through the Seattle-based Nick of Time Foundation, named for Nicholas Varrenti, who died in 2004 at the age of 16 from the same condition as Truax. The foundation spreads awareness of sudden cardiac arrest in youth, performs cardiac screenings and educates people about how to do CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Any additional funds raised will go towards providing AEDs at the high school.

Over said that the goal is for AEDs to eventually be provided at all schools. “AEDs are not mandatory for high schools even though the majority of people who have these issues are 14 to 24 years old,” she said, Most youth with these heart conditions do not have any clear symptoms, which is why it is important to have people in this age group screened for potential problems, she added.

“It’s so fixable,” Over said. “Matthew would not have died had his heart ailment been diagnosed.”

During screening events like one on February 5, students get screened and speak to a cardiologist about the results. After, participants can attend a session with volunteer firefighters to learn how to perform CPR and use an AED.

Although most screenings will likely be normal, the foundation expects to find two or three kids with potential cardiac problems at the screening in February.

According to the Nick of Time Foundation’s website, a young person dies every three days due to a sudden cardiac arrest. It is the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes.

— Story by Natalie Covate

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