There are about eight million high school students participating in organized sports in the United States.

Most of those student athletes are required to have a sports physical to show that they are healthy enough to play.

For 15-year-old Rafe Maccarone, soccer is everything. Nothing is slowing down this leading scorer.

However, one day at soccer practice…

“He started to lag at the back of the pack and that was unusual for sure for Rafe,” said Evan Ernst, Co-Founder and Executive Director for Who We Play For.

Maccarone collapsed and went into sudden cardiac arrest. With all of the efforts he was unable to be revived.

“It made absolutely no sense to a bunch of teenagers, and it still doesn’t,” said Ernst.

But Rafe’s story is not alone. Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for young athletes.

“One in 300 will carry a form of cardiovascular disease that predisposes them to have a risk of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Gul Dadlani, MD, Chief Pediatric Cardiology for Nemours Children’s Hospital.

That’s why Rafe’s former teammate Evan Ernst and doctors have pushed to require EKG screenings for student athletes.

“An EKG enhances detection of forms of cardiovascular diseases that can cause sudden cardiac arrest, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, long QT, Wolff-Parkinson-White, and other arrhythmias,” said Dr. Dadlani.

Though the organization Who We Play For, EKG screenings are provided at no to low cost for student athletes.

An abnormal EKG screening led Marianne Hendrix to find out her son Xavier had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that causes a rapid heartbeat and increases the risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

“He said your son is a ticking time bomb,” said Marianne Hendrix, Parent.

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But with the discovery of the heart condition, Xavier has switched focus from football to medicine.

“His desire is to be a pediatrician cardiologist,” said Hendrix.

He wants to do this as a way to save lives and give back to those who saved his.