Holly Morrell

KNX Hero of the Week
Friday, July 26th
Each year, a shocking number of young athletes die from sudden cardiac arrest. 

Many athletes, and parents of athletes, have no idea that most pre-season physicals don't provide adequate testing for possible heart problems. Our KNX "Hero of the Week" is changing that, one screening at a time.

Every three days, a high school athlete in America dies from sudden cardiac arrest. The numbers are alarming:

"Cardiac arrest is the number-one killer in the United States," says Holly Morrell, of Heartfelt Cardiac Projects. "It claims the lives of over 350,000 individuals each year." 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, that's more than firearms, car accidents, breast cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's combined. 

"The worst part, is that more often than not, they are preventable tragedies," says Holly. 

While pushing through her own journey with a genetic heart condition, Holly Morrell started Heartfelt Cardiac Projects.



It's based in Laguna Beach, and provides affordable cardiac screenings for young athletes across California. 

"There is no standardized protocol in this country because this sort of screening process is not generally available to the project," says Holly. "So, Heartfelt goes into community-based venues, primarily schools, and we offer the electrocardiogram and the echocardiogram. And, conservatively speaking, [it's about] $1,500 worth of cardiac evaluations, that we offer for a small donation.

"You know, extra stress placed on the heart is what's causing the problem, and [that's] why you'll continue to hear about athletes dying on the playing field.  It's devastating enough just to contemplate those numbers, but to consider that they're life could have been saved through a simple screening, it's just absolutely heart-breaking."  

Dana Hills High School tennis player Ali Aga says her life changed forever, after a Heartfelt screening at her school.  

"They gave us a phone call and said that I needed to go to the hospital right away," says Ali. "I went in for more testing there, and I was diagnosed with WPW (Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome)."

It's a heart condition that has required two surgeries already. The 15 year-old says Heartfelt may saved her life.  



Ali's mom, Tina Aga, agrees. "Thank goodness she's [Holly] out there. Because if Holly wasn't out there, or Heartfelt, I don't know where we would go to have this done. It's the most amazing thing you can have done for your child."  

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Gina Gorrel, of Riverside, lost her son, Austin, to sudden cardiac arrest while he was in college. After his death, Gina connected with Holly and began volunteering at Heartfelt screening events in Southern California. 

Gina was urged by the staff at Heartfelt to get a screen herself. And, that's when she found that SHE had a heart issue, as well. She now has a pacemaker. 

"It literally saved my life, because I had no symptoms at all," says Gina. "If it wasn't for Holly pushing me to go... I don't even know if I'd be here today." 

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Orange County philanthropist Karen Armstrong is with the Kevin Armstrong Memorial Sports Foundation. She has worked alongside Holly throughout her career. She says Holly's passion to help others is inspirational.

"The inspiration is on so many levels! When I think about Holly, I think about a warrior-woman, who does above and beyond, what anyone has expected that she could do," says Karen. "And, that gives me the inspiration I need, to keep going."

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Holly Morrell's efforts with Heartfelt Cardiac Projects has prevented heartbreak for so many people.  So, that's why we are recognizing Holly, as our KNX "Hero of the Week."  

KNX Heroes is presented by California Resources Corporation, saluting our military veterans, and all of our heroes.

Nominate your own KNX "Hero of the Week" at KNX1070.com.  

Heather Jordan KNX 1070 News Radio. 
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