Although it’s been nearly 30 years, the memory is still crystal clear for Connie Denney.
It was the fourth quarter with two minutes left until the end of Citrus High School’s junior varsity football game against Lake Weir High School.
CHS freshman Chip Stoskopf had sat patiently on the bench every week since the start of the season.
But for this game, Thursday, Oct. 8, 1992, coach Ken Berry had promised the eager young wide receiver that he could play.
Chip took his place on the line of scrimmage. The ball was snapped, a whistle blew and Chip collapsed on the field before he even had a chance to play.
He died the next day as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.
An autopsy revealed he had had an irregular heartbeat in the lower chamber of his heart that would have most likely not been detected through a stethoscope, but would have been found with an ECG screening.
In 2017, in honor of the 25th anniversary of her son’s death, Connie Denney teamed up with Who We Play For (WWPF), a national nonprofit organization that comes into communities and provides EKG screenings for student athletes.
In 2018 and 2019, Denney, who lives in Bradenton, returned to Citrus County to assist WWPF volunteers give ECG tests at the three local high schools.
After a two-year “COVID break” they are returning to Citrus County May 10-12.
WWPF will be offering ECG screenings from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at Crystal River High School; from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at Citrus High School and from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, May 12, at Lecanto High School.
An ECG, or electrocardiogram, is a simple, painless, noninvasive test that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart and takes less than five minutes.
Although the focus is on student athletes, any student aged 10 or older is welcome, said Connie Denney, WWPF heart screening director. She added, the cost is $20, but “we never turn anyone away if they don’t have the ability to pay.”
If an abnormality or problem is detected, parents are notified.
“We do a lot of follow up,” Denney said, “and we have a group of cardiologists they can go to if they don’t have insurance.”
Who We Play For began in 2014 by a group of Florida State University students who wanted to do something in memory of a friend who had died from sudden cardiac arrest while playing soccer in 2007.
The mission of Who We Play For (WWPF) is to provide affordable cardiac screening for student athletes. To date WWPF has tested more than 148,576 athletes and has detected 156 cardiac conditions in athletes that might have caused their death on the ball field or court.
WWPF is also actively advocating to have ECG screenings as part of the already mandatory physical exams for student athletes.
To register and pay online, complete the required consent form at www.who weplayfor.org. Go to the Heart Screening Registration drop-down menu and click on “Other Screenings” then choose which school location you will be going to.
The website also has a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.