Oct 25, 201208:39 AMDaily News
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How’s your child’s heart?
October is commonly known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.
Heart disease claims more lives than breast cancer annually (and it’s the No. 1 killer of women) yet is overshadowed in publicity.
But one local family not only focuses on Sudden Cardiac Arrest during October, but all year long.
George “Skip” and Cris Over of Carlisle have made it their mission to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and heart disease. The couple travels the midstate to educate people on what is quietly one of the biggest health threats in the country.
With Skip and Cris, it’s personal. Their son died unexpectedly more than a decade ago.
Nicholas Ryan Over was a typical 20-year-old balancing school, a job and a social life. His father now sees signs—just very subtle warnings—but at the time it seemed Nick was simply burning the candle at both ends. He was exhausted and had a sore back, but working at Giant is exhausting. He saw a doctor who noted Nick’s busy routine and recommended he slow it down.
But on April 8, 2001, Nick passed away from a sudden cardiac arrest. He had ARVD, or Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia. His loss devastated his parents and two brothers and left them wondering what to do next. “After Nick died, we knew we wanted to do something,” Skip Over said. “We really didn’t have a clue. You cared about (sudden cardiac arrest) when you read it, you cared about those people, but it wasn’t you so it didn’t hit home.”
The Overs started a foundation in their son’s name. The Nicholas Ryan Over Foundation educates people about sudden cardiac arrest in youth and provide AEDs and AED training.
In addition, they host events across the region to screen children for heart problems. “Our ultimate goal is to get screenings involved on a national level, and AEDs just like a fire extinguisher.”
The foundation has donated AEDs to various local schools, and their screenings have possibly saved at least two lives after the testing led to a previously unknown diagnosis.
“It’s a mission,” Over said. “It’s grown more from keeping his memory alive to getting the word out on the national level.”
For more information on the Nicholas Ryan Over Foundation or to find out where the next screening is, visit their website here. For more information on heart disease, watch for our February print edition of Central Penn Parent.
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web at Central Penn Parent. He survived major heart surgery as a baby and urges families to get their hearts screened.