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Loryn Musgrove - Kelso HS: "Staying Heartstrong"
 11/12/2013 12:00:00 AM

Author: Loryn Musgrove
Grade: Junior
School: Kelso HS
Mascot: Hilanders
League: Greater St. Helens
Classification: 3A

Staying Heartstrong:  The Boy Who Died and Came Back to Life

September 9th , 2012, was a life changing night for me. I received the news that one of my best friends, Spencer Best, was being life-flighted to Children’s Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, OR after experiencing sudden heart failure during the middle of a pre-season basketball open gym. The fear I felt from not knowing if my dear friend would even make it to the hospital alive, let alone through the night, was an experience I will never forget as long as I live.

Spencer, a perfectly healthy, 16-year-old, three-sport athlete, was a victim of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), something that happens to thousands of healthy athletes every year and also something that can result in death if not treated within minutes.  Only by the grace of God was Spencer a lucky survivor of the number one killer among young athletes. Spencer had basically died that night when his heart completely stopped, and came back to life due to quick thinking, courageous coaches, teammates, family and doctors.

Two days later, on September 11th, 2012, Spencer had an Implantable Cardioverter Defilbrillator (ICD) surgically placed inside of his heart in order to provide a warning in case it happened again in the future. The ICD detects failures in the heart by sending an electrical shock to the heart if it ever stops beating or if blood stops flowing to the brain or other vital organs.  Sudden cardiac arrests kill one of our youth every three days in the US and thousands each year, so it’s definitely safe to say that my buddy Spencer is a living miracle who is back on the baseball field, golf course, and basketball court. This story could’ve ended there, as a high school athlete surviving a tragedy and those of us who know him, thrilled to still have him with us.  But, it doesn’t stop there.

“There are two ways you can go about it. Leave it on that day, don’t do anything and try to heal on your own, or, do what we did and make a tragedy into an amazing situation, not just for us trying to overcome this, but to help others in the community.”

-Spencer Best

Taking a tragedy and turning it into an amazing situation is just what Spencer and the Best family have done.  They have created Spencer’s Heartstrong Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is, "To strive to inspire others to take action to become better educated, prepared, and take part in heart screening that can prevent other youth from experiencing SCA."

Since Spencer’s SCA last year in 2012, Spencer’s Heartstrong Foundation has held a heart screening clinic for athletes in the Cowlitz County area to be informed about their own heart condition, something simple sport physicals do not currently do.  Luckily, I learned I have a healthy, normal one, but I also learned what to do if faced with a similar situation as Spencer’s.

Spencer’s Heartstrong Foundation has also donated $20,000 to the Kelso and Longview School Districts to install Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) into every school building. Before Spencer’s incident, I didn’t even know if my own high school had an AED, let alone what one was or looked like!  Do you know if your school has one?

As a perfectly healthy, three-sport athlete myself, I would have never thought anything like this could ever happen to one of my best friends, but it can.  Looking healthy on the outside does not mean your heart is strong on the inside.  Get educated, get screened and stay “Heartstrong!”  

For more information or questions, like Spencer’s Heartstrong Foundation on Facebook, or go to the website www.stopyouthsca.org.

From: Casie Saavedra 11/14/2013 2:18 PM

Great article Loryn...Spencer and his entire family mean so much to me and my family, Thank you God for saving him !!!

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November 2013

11/25/2013 Kate McGree - La Salle HS: "An Abundance of Giving"
11/12/2013 Loryn Musgrove - Kelso HS: "Staying Heartstrong"

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