UIL to hear dad's plea to mandate ECG testing for football players

October 20, 2012 5:42:20 AM PDT
Thousands of young Texans are playing football under the Friday night lights. While they are protected with helmets and pads, one father says it's not enough and his family learned that the hard way.

You couldn't miss No. 76.

"You can't talk about Cody without talking about his size. He was 6-foot-9 and his weight fluctuated between 285 and 320," his father, Scott Stephens, said.

He was the biggest player on the field at nearly every game.

Cody learned early his size gave him dominance.

"When he first started playing football and they put on pads, he was like, 'Mom, it doesn't hurt when you hit people.' And he thought that was the coolest thing," his mother, Melody Stephens, said.

The Crosby right tackle standout was highly sought after and received a football scholarship to Tarrolton State University.

Tragically, he never made it there.

On May 6, he felt tired, lay down at home and the 18-year-old athlete never woke up.

"It was real apparent that he had passed away sometime earlier by that time," Scott said.

After the teen's death, his family learned of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the genetic defect that took his life by surprise.

In fact, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons estimates 50 to 100 sudden deaths occur annually in middle, high school and college.

His parents are now pushing for a heart screenings during school physicals that can help save future lives.

"I want all our kids to be alive and this ECG will take the archaic physicals that they're having now, the same one that you an I had in the 70s and 80s, and take it from a physical that catches one percent of heart issues to 86 percent. And then if you throw an echocardiogram, it's catch up to 98 percent," Scott said.

The father has already begun lobbying the Crosby Independent School District to begin the screenings.

"Erik, there is no worse pain that I could ever imagine than losing your child. And my mission is that nobody else gets to feel this for this reason. I don't want to be blamed when the next student dies that I didn't do enough to stop it," Scott said.

The Stephens have started the Go Big or Go Home Foundation, after Cody's favorite saying.

He will head to Austin this weekend to testify before a UIL subcommittee to ask to mandate the test for schools all over the state, which will also be Cody's 19th birthday.

A student that the test caught in Huffman ISD will also accompany him.


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