Surrounded by families who have endured the heartache of losing a child to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), The Peyton Walker Foundation (PWF) called on Pennsylvania lawmakers to pass SB 836 known as Peyton’s Law. Sponsored by State Sen. Mike Regan (R-District 31), the measure would enhance the existing PIAA Sports Physical form to include information about requesting an electrocardiogram (EKG) as part of sports physicals. Peyton’s Law aims to protect students and provide them and their families with resources to make informed health decisions. Additionally under the legislation, PA Department of Education would post information on the website about Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the importance of EKGs and the signs and symptoms of heart disease that can lead to cardiac arrest.
Peyton Walker was a 19-year-old college sophomore when she died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in November 2013. Her family established The Peyton Walker Foundation in her honor to increase awareness and survival rates of Sudden Cardiac Arrest through education, screening and training.
“Informing parents and students of the hidden danger of undetected heart issues and the risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest is essential if we are to prevent more of these tragic deaths,” said Julie Walker, executive director of The Peyton Walker Foundation. “We thank Sen. Regan and heart heroes like Scott and Melody Stephens for advocating on behalf of Pennsylvania student-athletes and their families. With all of the medical advances, why are we giving our kids the same physicals that we, as parents, received 30, 40 or 50 years ago? This is unacceptable. We are failing our precious children.”
The Stephens of Crosby, Texas joined the rally for SB 836. Their son Cody died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in May 2012, just a few weeks before his high school graduation. Through the Cody Stephens Foundation, they lobbied Texas lawmakers successfully to enact a measure similar to Peyton’s Law.
“We proudly stand with Julie, the Foundation and Sen. Regan to support the adoption of Peyton’s Law. We know this law can save young lives and prevent families from experiencing the heartache we and the Walkers have endured,” noted Scott Stephens, president of the Cody Stephens Foundation. “Like Texas, Pennsylvania can honor the memory of our children by protecting student-athletes from the dangers of heart issues that too often go undetected and untreated, yet can often be discovered by an EKG.”
“As a father of four, Peyton’s and Cody’s stories, as well as so many others, have hit close to home,” stated Sen. Regan. “Knowing a simple test could save my children from becoming a victim of SCA motivated me to have my boys screened, and my legislation provides information to parents and empowers them to take the same steps I did.”
Showing the depth of grassroots movement for SB 836, dozens of supporters encircled the media conference including Adam Breneman, a former All-American football player, sports commentator and PWF board member; leading Pennsylvania healthcare professionals and business leaders; youth and high school sports teams, students, and organizations; parents whose children died of SCA; as well as survivors, some of whom were saved by Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and trainings provided by The Peyton Walker Foundation.
Julie Walker added, “It’s extremely gratifying to know that one of our donated AEDs saved the life of an East Penn Little League player’s mom.” That mom was resuscitated after suffering Sudden Cardiac Arrest last summer during a game.
Terry O’Connor, a mother who lost her son Brendan at age 22 to Sudden Cardiac Arrest due to an undiagnosed heart condition, also joined today’s event, stating, “Had Brendan been tested, he would be with us today.”