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Collins Hill PTSA Health Fair reaches out with heart

I can tell you firsthand how heartbreaking it is to lose a child. Our son, Loren, died in a car wreck 10 years ago. But then, every time our kids pull out of the driveway, don't we realize in the back of our minds that this could happen?

Tracy Wilson can tell you firsthand how heartbreaking it is to lose a child. But in her case, the cause was something she, and most parents, never could have fathomed. In 2007, her son, Terrell, age 14, died in her arms of an undetected aortic dissection of the heart, a condition she had no idea he had. But with proper screening, she could have. And Terrell might still be playing football at Collins Hill.

"Students are not getting the right kinds of physicals at school," Wilson said.

To keep Terrell's legacy alive and to help prevent other teens from the same kind of death, Wilson founded the Terrell Wilson Total Sports Fitness Foundation Inc. Last year, she arranged heart screens or echocardiograms for teens at the Collins Hill Health Fair. The procedure, which costs about $1,000 in a hospital, cost parents only $58.

PTSA co-vice president Dawna Baker said, "Last year, of 134 teenagers who were screened, 18 were diagnosed with a potential heart condition. Consequently, we feel it is even more important than ever to make sure every student that would like to be tested, whether athlete or not, have the opportunity to prevent a potential life-threatening condition. For students that are unable to pay for their exam, the PTSA has a limited amount of free heart screen tests to award to those that qualify."

The Collins Hill PTSA Health Fair will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with dozens of local medical providers offering services. With the exception of the heart screen, which is still only $58, and the only service that requires an appointment (e-mail lizpizarro@

aol.com) all other services, including vision screening, cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose testing, spinal examinations and chair massages will be free to every member of the community, young and old alike.

Baker stresses another high point of the event will be a presentation by a specialist on eating disorders, a prevalent illness among teenagers, both male and female.

The Red Cross will also be offering Chick-fil-A free sandwich cards to all blood donors. And to include even more of the community, the PTSA is offering tables for businesses to rent if they are not providing a free medical service at the health Fair. These funds will go directly to heart screen scholarships.

"Our goal is to provide the opportunity to screen as many students in our community as possible," Baker said.

"I want to ensure that another parent does not have to endure the pain and suffering that I am going through," Wilson said.

I hear you both.

For full information, visit www.collinshill.com/PTSA/09_HealthFair.htm.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.