Here’s a look at our interview with Jake.
Jake is a first-year engineering student at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Under different circumstances he may even been part of Gonzaga’s elite athletic department. Jake was a star basketball player at Camas High School who, as a sophomore, was part of the varsity team that took the school to Washington State finals tournament for the first time in more than 50 years. A year later, even as colleges were scouting him, an EKG that his father made him get, revealed an cardiac irregularity. After extensive testing he was diagnosed with Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, HCM, a genetic disease in which part of the heart muscle is enlarged. In severe cases, the disease can cause death.
In his award-winning essay, Jake wrote: “It has been a journey to come to terms with my diagnosis but I have come to realize that I am very lucky that my heart problem was detected. The kids who all of a sudden go into cardiac arrest and tragically die are often diagnosed too late with HCM.”
Jake credits his close-knit family, parents, Becky and Ken, and siblings, Bryan and Halie, (cq) as well as the Camas community for helping him come to terms with this. “Camas is the kind of community that has your back,’’ he said.
After an admittedly difficult acceptance of his limitations, Jake had to quit the basketball team. He soon refocused his energy. He became a player coach and he began raising money to raise awareness for heart disease research. With the help of his community, Jake raised $16,700 for the Oregon Health and Sciences University Knight Cardiovascular Institute in Portland, OR.
In addition, he worked closely with the David Heller Memorial Foundation, named after another student-athlete. In 2005, David Heller was just 17 years old when he died from HCM. His family set up a foundation to raise awareness for teen heart disease and to promote EKG testing for student athletes.
Jake hopes to continue to raise research and awareness for heart disease. Among teen-agers heart disease can be undetected and even fatal. It is one of the top five causes of death among teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Berger and Green Attorneys at Law have been serving the injured and disabled from than 40 years. We are committed to the Pittsburgh community, but with this scholarship, we reach out to students around the country. Applicants must be diagnosed with heart disease or a congenital heart defect and be enrolled in an accredited college or university in the United States.
The Heart Disease Scholarship is only one of the many community programs Berger and Green have instituted over the years. Our practice is dedicated to getting people the help they deserve after an injury or disability. We have long been partners in community outreach, including multiple local charities that help people and animals.
For more information, call our firm at 412-661-1400.