Letter from the President
Dearest Friends and Supporters,
I can hardly believe 11 years have passed since our “1st Chad Echocardiogram Screening for Young Athletes” which took place at Chad’s alma mater, North Hollywood High, CA, the first screening of its kind in the nation. When I first began this crusade to safeguard young hearts, it was like donning my pioneer bonnet and setting off into unchartered territory. At that time Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes was a little known and little researched disease. It seemed that two young, promising athletes broke that ground wide open with their untimely deaths, Hank Gathers from Loyola Marymount and Reggie Lewis, of the Boston Celtics. I remember reading an article at that time that said “12 young athletes die annually from Sudden Cardiac Death.” Twelve?? The Centers of Disease Control now say 5,000 young people under the age of 35 die annually from Sudden Cardiac Arrest and that may be a low figure considering all those young deaths that go unreported in rural or impoverished communities.
But thanks to the tremendous support of Cardiologists, Technicians, and Nurses from renowned Hospitals such as Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Heart Institute, Johns Hopkins Heart Hype, Mt. Sinai and NYU in New York, Holyoke Medical Center in Massachusetts, manufacturing partners, such as Philips and SonoSite, corporate partners such as The Medtronics Foundation and The Green Foundation, and the caring, loyal support of all The Friends of Chad, we have made that first footprint of one young athlete receiving an echocardiogram screening to over 6,000 young people screened in 5 states and internationally in Austria and Sweden, screening respectively 18 and 26 countries of athletes participating in the “1st and 2nd Homeless Streetsoccer World Cups.”
Post 9-11, Chad with the Living Heart, provided 2,000 NYPD officers with complete cardiovascular screenings at The NYC Police Academy. Chad has found on average a 15-20% anomaly rate for every 100 participants screened and surgeries have been performed as a result of our early interventions. In our pilot program in western Massachusetts in partnership with the Living Heart, we discovered of the 250 high school students screened one-third were at risk for one of more cardiovascular risk factors: hypertension, clogged arteries, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and/or structural abnormalities, so now Chad includes testing for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, obesity and the EKG – to monitor electrical problems, as well the echocardiogram which detects structural abnormalities. We are learning from countries like Italy and Japan, where mandatory prescreening of their athletes has been in place for years, that 25 year stats clearly show early detection does save lives- Italy has a 90% save rate. For the first time in its history the venerable institution, the NFL, is considering making echocardiograms mandatory for their draftees and the NBA has instituted mandatory Echocardiogram screenings for their athletes. That barren land is now sprouting seeds of awareness and growth.
Many parents, who have also experienced the great loss of a child, tirelessly advocate until the lifesaving tool, the AED, is in every school. Others take on the task of prescreening our young people whenever, wherever we can. And none of us are going away; we’re here for the duration. We’ve lost a child, we know what that means, and we’ll do anything to prevent that from happening to your child. I invite you to join us, spread the word, become aware of your heart, support us, help us make those screenings happen in your communities nationwide. A “Heart Healthy Lifestyle” starts at home. Know the Warning Signs and The Chain of Survival. Education and awareness is vital in safeguarding yours and your children’s hearts. Volunteerism is integral in making screening programs happen in your own community and those involved have come to know, ‘There is no greater gift than helping to save a young person’s Life.’
The other arm of The Chad Foundation has also been busy, – “The Gift of Art.”
Chad truly cared about all people, as his Friends would say, Chad never saw colour, only you, what you were about, what were your hopes and dreams, and so through The Gift of Art,” we create and perform Art- books, film, theatre, that tell stories about all our heritages, our dreams and joys and angst and challenges and promote multi-cultural works and talent. The Chad Players have performed 6 off Broadway multi-cultural performances to challenge the mind and heal the spirit. The Chad/McGraw Hill Books video of the classic poem, “To An Athlete Dying Young,” is shown in 5,000 schools, with an introduction by The Chad Foundation. The Foundation’s documentary titled, “Beyond A Mother’s Memories,” shows the journey of the foundation to save lives and was given honourable note at the Envoy Film Festival. The off-Broadway play, “All About Sneakers,” a play about learning to love oneself, has been performed for 300 Homeless Men and Women in NYC. The Chad Players production of the classic play,” Days of Wine and Roses,” was brought to Atlantic City, NJ, sponsored by the “Atlantic Commission on Abused and Missing Children/Department of Family and Youth Services” as the community event of the year to show the deleterious effects substance abuse can have on the family.
If we can change- not the landscape of athletics but the value of each Athlete’s Life, if we can inspire the mind and heart of just one youth with our Gift of Art, then we know we have imparted the values of our namesake, Chad Alan Butrum, “Healthy Body Mind and Spirit.” Chad has been called a young Renaissance man, endless curiosity...the history of man, the stranger on the street who he would talk to for hours. He never drank, smoked or did drugs- it was just his own code He loved athletics, his family and loved all people, from 0 to 100, every heritage, every orientation and most of all he wanted to know what you were about, your hopes and dreams. Saving one Life to reach their full potential would be Chad’s greatest wish and joy.
With your continued Love, Support and Gifts, in the next decades we will continue to see that barren ground on which I first stepped, filled with healthy young Lives fulfilling their own dreams in this great country. Our greatest Love and Appreciation, dear Friends and Supporters – we save Hearts and nourish Minds and Spirits because of each of you.
From my Heart,
Arista, President and Founder... Chad’s Mom (& Curt and Collin’s) the greatest role in Life