FSU Students Fight Against Cardiac Arrest in Young Athletes

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 25, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - A group of FSU students has turned the sudden loss of a friend into a mission. The students are fighting against the number one killer of young athletes--sudden cardiac arrest.

The day after scoring the game-winning goal, 15-year-old Rafe Maccarone went running during soccer practice. "All of a sudden, he's on the ground not breathing, unresponsive." Says, his high-school friend, R.J. Black.

Maccarone died of cardiac arrest. That was in 2007, and every day since then, his friends have been spreading awareness of heart disease and cardiac arrest in young athletes.

In 2012, the group of FSU students formed the non-profit organization called, "Who Do You Play For".

One of the co-founders, Evan Ernst, says, "He was our best friend and leading scorer. He was a competitor, he was a beloved friend and teammate. We decided that we had to do something because the time was now or never to do it."

Experts say sudden cardiac arrest is the biggest killer of young athletes. One study shows about 110 young competitive athletes die nationwide every year.

Locally, in January, 15-year-old Tariq Barfield died after collapsing on the track at Godby High School. Just last week, 24-year-old Antwan Ivey collapsed and died on the basketball court at the student recreation center at FAMU.

Kieran Easton, with "Who Do You Play For", says, "It's our duty to really make an impact and spread awareness so that other people don't have to go through what we did because it's a very preventable situation."

Black says, "If you can give people the knowledge of what to do in that situation, it can be the difference between him passing away or maybe barely surviving but still surviving."

The group is holding free heart screenings tomorrow (4/26) from nine to three p-m. The event will be held at Holy Comforter Episcopal School on Fleischmann Road in Tallahassee. It's for ages eight to 22.

There will also be AED and CPR training at the event.

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