In 2004, Simon Sudman was born with an unknown heart defect called long QT syndrome. After just three months of his life, he was one of thousands of children to die from it in 2005. It was recommended that the rest of his family get heart screenings, and the results revealed that Phyllis Sudman, Simon’s mother, also had the condition.
That inspired the Sudmans to create Simon’s Fund, an organization that provides free heart screenings to students. They do this in order to raise awareness for sudden cardiac arrest conditions, which kill thousands of people every year. The organization is located in the Philadelphia area, but have special opportunities to come to places, like here and NCAA Final Four the past four years. They also host awareness events, 5K’s and galas, “We have gone to the final four for the last four years to do heart screenings in those cities to help raise awareness for the cause, and turns out the group that’s highest risk of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest are African American NCAA basketball players,” Simon’s Fund Co-Founder, Executive Director, and Simon’s dad, Darren Sudman said.
Simon’s Fund is considered to be a pay it forward organization. The screenings are free, but they usually raise over $1,000 at each screening event. The way it works is that usually whoever donates first is paying for the next person to be screened. Simon’s Fund is a non-profit, but has fundraisers and other events but also will “raise between $1,000 and $2,000 at heart screenings,” Sudman said.
Free youth heart screenings will be available by online sign up, and done on Mar. 4. Maryland is not one of the usual places that Simon’s Fund travels to, but co-founders Phyllis and Darren Sudman have a lot of connections and friends who live here, that have contact with the school, and reached out to the school to set it up for them. Simon’s Fund is an easy, free way to alert students of the severity of unrecognizable conditions, like the one Simon had, and can tell whether or not they have life threatening condition. They have screened over 14,000 kids and helped around 100 discover unknown heart conditions. “It’s really nice what they do, because most people wouldn’t think to randomly get their hearts checked but when your school offers it for free I guess you shouldn’t pass something like that up,” freshman Bailey Goldstein said.
Simon’s Fund has worked and achieved passing legislation in 11 states that support student athletes and make heart screenings a routine, regular necessity for athletes around the country. Conditions like these can go unknown, and shouldn’t, so having a heart screening done is a smart and easy thing to do. Symptoms are not always obvious, and can sometimes be symptoms of other non life-threatening illnesses, like dehydration, “symptoms like fainting during exercise or extreme shortness of breath,” Sudman said.