Green Country Father Keeps Son's Legacy Alive By Helping Others
TULSA, Oklahoma - Student-athletes put their hearts into the sports they play, but what many parents don't know is their child's heart could be putting them at risk.
More than 2,000 student-athletes die from sudden cardiac arrest each year in the United States; in 2013, one of them was a 16-year-old Grove boy and now his father is working to turn his tragedy into triumph.
Heart problems can be detected before it's too late, and that's just the point of the Chase Morris Foundation, according to Chase's father, Mike Morris.
“It'll be 18 months tomorrow that we lost Chase,” Mike said.
Chase was the picture of health, his stepmom, Kristi Brooks said. He was a growing teenaged tennis player, 6-feet-2-inches and 252 pounds.
“Two weeks before he died he placed sixth in the state tournament in the doubles tennis championship,” Kristi said.
From the outside everything checked out fine; he was a silly 16 year old without a care in the world and a heart of gold.
“Chase was a young man that gave everything to everybody,” Mike said.
Inside, however, Mike said his son's heart was just too big for his body.
On May 20th 2013, after playing ping pong with his brothers, Chase collapsed - no warning signs, no symptoms.
“Walked inside and he was gone,” Kristi said.
Chase died of sudden cardiac arrest. He had an enlarged heart, which made it harder for blood to pump effectively - something that could have been found easily with the proper screening.
So, Chase's dad started the Chase Morris Foundation.
“This is a matter of life of death, parents. And it's up to you to get your child screened,” he said.
More than 200 Metro Christian students were checked out in the first Play for Chase youth heart screening Wednesday.
They were trained in CPR, but more importantly, they were given a series of tests that could detect life-threatening defects.
“There's some certain fairly rare EKG abnormalities that can cause people to have bad heart rhythms that are associated with kids that die suddenly while playing sports,” said Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Matthew Kimberling.
By helping to save other children, Chase's father is certain his son's legacy will never die.
“Chase gave his heart, his heart lives on,” Mike said.
The Chase Morris Foundation hopes to hold ten screenings each year at schools across Oklahoma.
A $25 donation is suggested, but if a student can't afford that, the foundation will cover the cost.
It's hoping to find donors to sponsor the less fortunate children.