You hear about it every day in the news – the sudden death of a young athlete or the unexplained passing of a young person. Did you know that each year, almost 4,000 US kids and young people die suddenly – seemingly for no reason? These are young people who were perfectly healthy one second, and gone the next. These deaths are almost always preventable if the underlying genetic heart condition is identified and treated. The SADS (Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes) Foundation, founded in Utah in 1992, exists to save these lives.
One of the most important things the SADS Foundation does is raise awareness of the warning signs of these conditions. If you or someone you know has any of these warning signs, contact the SADS Foundation for a physician referral. Once diagnosed, SADS conditions are treatable, and deaths can be prevented.
- Fainting when exercising or startled
- History of young, unexplained death in the family
- Consistent chest pain or pressure during exercise
The SADS Foundation has come up with a unique awareness campaign, based on a wonderful man who lost his wife to a SADS condition. It is the "Flat Bob" campaign. Meet Bob DeVries, a regular guy from the Midwest and an avid baseball fan. On September 10, 2008, Bob came home after work to find his beloved wife, Shawn, dead on the couch. Shawn had been an active and fit 35 year old woman with no history of health problems. Her unexpected and tragic death left Bob stunned and devastated.
In time, it was discovered that Shawn had died from a genetic heart problem called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD), a SADS condition. In 2009, as part of Bob's recovery process and as a way to acknowledge his and Shawn's shared love for baseball, he started a quest to attend one game at each of the 30 US major league baseball parks in one season. It was during this quest that his path first crossed with the SADS Foundation and he began to help other families find answers about the unexplained passing of loved ones.
This campaign became known as 'Where's Bob?' Families affected by SADS flocked to MLB parks to meet the 'real' Bob and awareness of these conditions started to spread. The quest has now stretched beyond 'Where's Bob?' into a global sensation known as 'Flat Bob'. Families affected by SADS conditions around the world download their print-at-home paper cut out of 'FlatBob' based on the real Bob DeVries. Photos of 'Flat Bob' at soccer fields, swim lessons, even doctor's offices flood into the SADS Foundation every day –raising awareness of these little known and potentially fatal heart conditions .'Flat Bob' is now rapidly traveling across the world from Norway to France and from the US to Australia. FlatBob even made an appearances at the season finale of the hit TV show 'The Voice Season 2′ and on the fairway of the 2012 Memorial Golf Tournament with Tiger Woods!
'Who would have thought that me, just some guy who was looking for a way to cope with losing a loved one by going to all the MLB park sin one season, would have spawned the "Where's Bob?" and the 'Flat Bob' campaigns? It is very humbling for me to see my name linked to a T-shirt and aFlat Bob cartoon caricature. Wonder what's next? – a "Where's 'Bob' blehead?"asks Bob DeVries.
'Flat Bob' encourages you to be a heart hero. Know the warning signs of SADS: 1) sudden fainting when exercising or startled, 2) a history of young, unexplained death in the family and 3) consistent chest pain or pressure during exercise. He encourages you to contact the SADS Foundation for help before another young life is lost.
As Bob traveled the country raising awareness of SADS, here connected with his childhood sweetheart. Last July, Bob and Charlie got married with a pre-wedding celebration at Wrigley Field!
Please support the work of the SADS Foundation. You can visit our website here: www.StopSADS.orgor call us at 1-800-STOP SAD. Working together, we can save young lives.