"Play for Patrick" encourages heart screenings for young athletes after Damar Hamlin injury

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Bills' Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a football game against the Bengals on Monday night, it brought back painful memories for Mike Schoonover.

His son, Patrick, was only 14 years old when he collapsed on the ice during a hockey game. He died that same day from cardiac arrest.

Schoonover said his phone started to light up after Hamlin was injured.

"It brought us back to when our son went down back in November of 2014 with his teammates watching, with people in attendance watching - that type of thing. So, it was heartbreaking to see," he said.

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes.

"The interpretation when Patrick went down is that he had a neck or head injury," Schoonover said.

The Schoonovers say the only clue was Patrick's high blood pressure at his most recent doctors' appointments.

"We did not know he had two heart conditions and so our family made it our mission to make sure that we reduce as many kids as possible from dying from sudden cardiac arrest," Schoonover said.

Since August of 2015, "Play for Patrick" has screened more than 4,000 students, finding hundreds with high blood pressure or heart defects. The foundation has donated 15 defibrillators to schools.

"You only have three minutes to save somebody's life or save their brain function by beginning CPR so it's really important that people be aware of it and even if you know how to do it, to practice it," he said.

The foundation is also pushing for heart screens to become part of physicals for all young people, since heart disease remains the number one killer of Americans.

The foundation's next event takes place this weekend. They'll screen athletes and their siblings participating in a hockey tournament.

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