Olympians lead young people to build healthier lives
We are fortunate to have a pair of outstanding Olympic medalists who, as ambassadors for the Texas Heart Institute, have put their hearts into helping young people build healthier lives.
Leo Manzano, the 2012 Silver Medal winner in the 1,500 meter run in London, has now joined us for another year and is helping to spread heart-health messages far and wide. He made an inspiring appearance at the 2012 Great Pumpkin Fun Run, spurring participants on, and is helping us with a number of projects.
In addition, Leo, who lives in Austin, has become a familiar face on THI’s Project Heart, a free, downloadable online curriculum for kids in grades K through 6. The lesson plans, which meet education standards have been downloaded all over the world. Together with the Project Heart mascot Cool-E the Robot, Leo launched The Seven-Day Fitness Challenge, which is a fun way for children, classrooms and families to get a head start on learning about heart health and getting fit.
We are also honored by a partnership with swimmer Dana Vollmer, winner of 7 Olympic Gold Medals. Dana, who grew up in Granbury in North Texas, was diagnosed as a teen-ager with Long QT syndrome, a malfunction of the electrical circuit in the heart which causes an irregular heartbeat. Her mother carried a portable defibrillator to Dana’s swim meets as a precaution.
Fortunately, Dana got the help she needed and has propelled herself to the very top in her sport. That same kind of determination is behind our partnership with Dana to help promote our ground-breaking study, through the THI Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies, into the causes of sudden cardiac death in young people, especially in young athletes. With the generous help of Rich and Nancy Kinder and the Kinder Foundation, Cameron and others, we are conducting research that includes free screenings of thousands of Houston-area middle-school and high-school students to learn more about how we might prevent such deaths.
World-class athletes, partnering with world-class medical research and education programs. We believe it is a formula for success and we are very grateful to these two gifted and generous athletes.
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