Durham mom fights to save heart fair

The #42 Heart Fair at Hillside High School
August 22, 2013 3:06:53 PM PDT
A Durham mother's crusade to prevent the deaths of high school athletes has hit a road block.

Tommie Polk's son Decarlo was a standout athlete at Hillside High School. Decarlo had just graduated and was preparing to go to St. Augustine on a football scholarship.

During a pick-up basketball game, the 17 year old collapsed and died of an undiagnosed heart condition. The death of the otherwise healthy teenager came as a shock to those who knew him.

"It just happened so fast and we had no warning signs, he was just playing and having a good time and then just like that," Polk said.

To keep other families from experiencing her heartbreak, Polk started the #42 Heart Fair at Hillside in honor of her son. For six years, health professionals performed EKG screenings on students for free.

This summer, Polk said she received an email from the head football coach at the high school that said, "After last year(s) confusion the football team will not be taking part in this event, I'm sorry."

Polk has her own opinion as to why the coach would decline the free screenings.

"There was a child who had an irregular EKG and he was not pleased with it because he was pulled from the team, so this is why he is not being supportive of it this year," Polk said.

To save the #42 Heart Fair, Polk rallied support from other Hillside parents, including Alicia Guzman.

"I've been emailing a lot of people saying please don't let this go away, we need it. Some parents can't afford it and this is free and open to the public. We want to catch it in advance before, god forbid, something happens to anybody," Guzman said.

Guzman eventually received a response that said the event would resume, but not until February.

Some parents say that is too late for this year's new student athletes, and they worry there will not be as good of a turnout at that time of year.

Polk said if the #42 Heart Fair does take place in February, she hopes coaches at Hillside will encourage their players to take part in the free screenings.

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