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AugustHeart Foundation Turning Tragedy Into an Impactful Life-Saving Mission

AugustHeart photo

AugustHeart

By Bruce X. Forey |  Photography by David Teran

 

According to a 2022 John Hopkins University study, one teen dies every three days from an undetected heart abnormality. In 2008, August Koontz passed away in his sleep from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. He was 18 years old. In 2011, The Koontz family established the AugustHeart Foundation in honor of their son and to prevent other families from the painful loss they experienced.

 

August attended Central Catholic High School. He was a very athletic young man who excelled playing football.

 

“Athletes exert extra energy, especially when playing in the Texas heat, so we started screening teens involved in sports,” said Cathy Klumpp (pictured left), AugustHeart Foundation executive director. “Soon, we expanded heart screenings to every teen, especially those involved in any type of extracurricular activity.”

 

The importance of heart screenings recently gained national attention with the frightening situation involving LeBron “Bronny” James, son of NBA superstar LeBron James. Bronny collapsed during practice for the University of Southern California basketball team. Reports state he had unspecified structural heart abnormality that put him at a higher-than-average risk of cardiac arrest. He underwent treatment and was cleared to resume playing college basketball.

 

Sudden cardiac death is a remote yet genuine possibility. Since 2011, AugustHeart has screened over 83,000 teens. Of that amount, 401 teens were identified to have a potential heart abnormality and referred to a cardiologist for further testing.

 

“Statistically, those 401 cases are less than half a percent of the 83,000 teens screened. But if we only saved one life, that’s one more family that gets to take their child home,” added Cathy.

 

As executive director, one of Cathy’s main priorities is to drive top of mind awareness of the free heart screenings.

 

“Our goal is to make sure every single teen and their family knows about AugustHeart and that they’re taking advantage of the free services we offer.

 

In 2023, they held 57 screening events, which included 29 area school districts. More than 10,300 teens were screened, of which 53 were referred for more diagnosis.

 

Cathy said the entire screening process takes about 20 minutes. The ECG screens for four abnormal heart conditions. If the cardiologist detects something questionable, they often follow up with an echocardiogram or ECHO, which uses sound waves to view moving images of the heart muscle and valves. If needed, the doctors will make a referral for the student to follow up with a pediatric cardiologist for a more thorough examination.

 

“We respect everyone’s privacy and don’t allow other parents in the room,” said Cathy. “We really try to make sure it’s very simple for the kids and help them feel at ease about it.”

 

It takes resources to make this tremendous service available to the community. Numerous volunteers are recruited to work various stations at each screening event. In 2023, AugustHeart logged 934 volunteer hours, including from seven cardiologists and 42 screening technicians.

 

“We reach out for volunteers, and many organizations contact us to ask how they can help,” Cathy said. “Without our volunteers, it wouldn’t be possible to serve the thousands of families every year through the screenings.”

 

It also takes funding to secure the equipment and host the screenings. AugustHeart receives grants and donations from the public. Their primary fundraising event is the annual Hearts of Texas gala. This year it takes place on October 9 at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, featuring entertainment from The Texases. The nonprofit also benefits from smaller fundraisers held by retailers who donate a portion of their sales to the organization.

 

Cathy said, “We’re really fortunate people are constantly thinking about ways they can get involved.”

 

The AugustHeart Foundation is located at 4940 Broadway, Suite 226. Visit AugustHeart.org to sign up for a free heart screening, learn about volunteering, donate, or buy tickets for their Heart of Texas gala. AugustHeart is also active on social media.

 

 

Bruce is a skilled real estate agent serving 78209 and beyond. He enjoys helping client’s market and sell their property, find a dream home or discover investment opportunities. He has advanced training as a luxury homes specialist, with pricing strategies, residential home inspection for real estate agents, and military relocation. Learn more at bruceXforey.com, social media, or email: bruce@bruceforey.com

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