Scott Stephens speaks at the Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce Thursday regarding ECG tests for athletes.

Cody’s Law in effect on Sept. 1

In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 76 or Cody’s Law into existence.

Since then, Scott Stephens, Cody’s father, has been a trailblazer in spreading the word on the law that he hopes will save many young athletes’ lives.

He spoke Thursday at the Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce on the new law.

The law, which goes into effect on Sept. 1 when potential athletes get their physicals, will provide  every student in Texas to have the option of having an electrocardiogram or ECG heart screening as part of his or her athletic physical exam.

Going forward, school districts may also provide free screenings as part of a physical.

“The UIL is not going to require schools to do anything,” Stephens said. “But, most schools are going to do this now and that’s cool.”

He said 40 percent of the state’s school districts are now offering free screenings as the law comes closer to its start date.

Goose Creek CISD has provided these ECG tests to families for six years at no cost to the district.

“We have given ECGs for the last six years to all of our student athletes,” district athletic director Dr. Bernard Mulvaney said. “We are proud to offer this worthy test to make sure our kids are safe to play the games they love.”

Stephens’ son, Cody of Crosby High School, died in 2012 of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in his sleep after a hard workout in preparation to play college football at Tarleton State.

“He was preparing his body to get ready for the rigors of football practice,” Stephens said. “He started running wind sprints. I didn’t know it until later, but he had a dizzy spell – a warning of what was to come. He interpreted that as ‘I need to get in better shape.’

“These kids don’t know that the warning signs are heart related. They think they need to get in better shape and work harder which is exactly what they don’t need.”

The Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Foundation will provide free screenings for students who attend districts that won’t provide free screenings for a year. However, Stephens thinks more districts will provide free tests.

Jessica Woods, Executive Director of Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce and a member of the GCCISD school board, is grateful for the efforts of Stephens to get the word out and the subsequent passing of Cody’s Law.

“We have always been supporters of his initiative; we’re concerned about the youth of our community,” Woods said. “It’s something that not difficult – the prescreening. It’s easily accessible to all of our student athletes. These are things where some people are aware of and are vigilant about, but there are others who aren’t. Having this as at their school as a part of their regular regimen as a part of athletics, it makes sense.”

Some of the warning signs include chest pain or discomfort/racing heart that can also happen during periods of physical exertion so this must be monitored and if a child seems to not be keeping up with his teammates after a small period of time, they need to be checked according to Stephens.

Other warning signs are fainting, seizure, unusual and prolonged shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness after physical activity and family history of heart disease or unexplained death of a family member under 50 years of age.

Texas is the first state with such a law on the books and now Pennsylvania is in the process of passing a similar one, Stephens said.

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