January 3, 2013
Five familiar faces in Phoenix cheering for K-State: Sharon Bates
Sharon Bates is on a mission to secure the hearts of young student athletes and help prevent others from experiencing the heartbreaking loss of a child.
Her son Anthony Bates was a Kansas State University football player who died in 2000 at age 20 from sudden cardiac arrest. He had an undiagnosed heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or enlarged heart. Despite years of routine sports physicals, life-saving heart screenings had never been part of his checkups.
In memory of her son, Bates started the Anthony Bates Foundation in 2002. The nonprofit foundation has performed more than 8,400 heart screenings on young athletes in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and Washington schools.
"We are finding a consistent 10 percent who didn't know they have heart problems," Bates said.
The foundation will host free screenings March 2, 2013, at Isaac Middle School in Phoenix and April 6 at Diamond Canyon School in Anthem. The results are given the same day to share with a family doctor.
"Most issues are treatable or correctable with surgery," Bates said. "Although there is no cure for people with an enlarged heart like Anthony's, it is not a death sentence. With lifestyle changes many individuals live well into their 70s and 80s."
Since the first screening a year after Anthony's death at K-State, the foundation has uncovered approximately 900 children with a heart condition, reinforcing the importance of heart screenings and furthering Bates' mission to help others.
"I had always been very involved in Anthony's life," Bates said. "I did what I could to help my son because he was my community. Once my son died, everyone became my community — especially Kansas State."
It was K-State Coach Bill Snyder who told Bates that she needed to start screenings. Today, nearly all K-State athletes are screened at the annual Anthony Bates Foundation heart screening in Manhattan.
"Going to K-State and doing a screening is like going to a family event; I always feel welcome," Bates said.
The Anthony Bates Foundation also donates automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to many schools across the U.S. and provides training for other programs to start heart screenings.
"There are 25 million kids in this country and until they don't need me, I'll keep doing my screenings and do what I can to make this world a better place," Bates said.