On Saturday, Dollinger Farms in Minooka turned into a Wild West Fest with BBQ, line dancing and tractor rides.
This year’s Wild West Fest, hosted by Morris Hospital, was designed to be a fundraiser for the new Rhythm of Our Youth Cardiac Screening Program and create relationships with those in the community who may want to work with the program in the future.
Hannah Wehrle, Auxiliary and Foundation Officer for Morris Hospital said the screening program began during the 2016-17 school year at seven high schools and screened 3,000 students in the Morris Hospital service area. She said after the screenings, five families had come back to tell the hospital that their children had life-threatening cardiac conditions. Wehrle said three of those were from Minooka Community High School, and two of those three have already had procedures.
Next year, seven more high schools in the Morris Hospital service area have been chosen for the screening, and then each year, the tests will rotate from group to group. Wehrle said initially, the program cost $130,000 for equipment, with an ongoing cost of about $20,000 a year to maintain the screenings. Volunteers are always needed as well, as it takes 50 to 60 people to run the screenings at each high school.
Wehrle said these children do not have underlying symptoms, and with an ECG not a standard test, electrical heart issues often go undiagnosed.
Brenda Walsh of Morris lost her son, Kaleb Justice Beck at age 14 in 2011 to a sudden cardiac arrest, which was caused by an electrical problem with his heart.
“If I can save one child’s life, then this is worth it. We turned our tragedy into something special,” Walsh said.