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Student athlete saved by a heart screening now pays it forward

Xavier Hendricks has a second lease on life
Posted: 1:28 AM, Feb 28, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-03 10:20:04-05
Xavier Hendricks

TAMPA - Not a single day passes that Connie Denney doesn’t think of her son Chip.

"Everyday it's there, the thought of did I miss something, did I not do something right as a mother?" Connie said.

Chip Denney was a bright kid, he loved dogs, was an avid soccer player, and then he wanted to play football.

"Very healthy athletic child you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with him, and in 1992 he dropped dead on a football field."

It was during his very first game. Chip suffered sudden cardiac arrest, it’s now the leading cause of death on school campuses during exercise according the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

He had an irregularity in his heart that wasn’t picked up through a stethoscope…he needed an E-K-G screening.

"I just assumed they did that and if we would have had an EKG I would have my son today."

In Lakeland, at Southeastern University one student athlete has a much different story to tell.

"I could've dropped dead at any moment, he basically said I was a ticking time bomb from that point on."

That’s what a cardiologist told Xavier Hendricks after he enrolled at Southeastern. They are one of just a handful of schools that require all athletes to undergo an EKG screening, and it saved Xavier’s life.

Xavier was diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White, and after a successful surgery, he’s cleared to do anything on a sports field, but he’d rather do this...

"I'm applying to medical school next year to go into cardiology or orthopedic surgery actually," Xavier said.

And along with Connie he’s working with “Who We Play For” an organization that provides EKG screenings to young athletes.

Both Connie and Xavier are registered and able to conduct an EKG screening, record the results and have them sent to cardiologists.

They, along with “Who We Play For” continue to push to screen athletes all over the state.