In honor of late teenager, metro high school offering heart exams to students

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RAYMORE, Mo. – It was a loss that shook one metro high school to its core. Seventeen-year old Ja'Leel Freeman died of a heart-related condition nearly a year ago. Leaders at Ray-Pec  High School are keeping his memory alive by examining the health of other students.

Students at RPHS say it's hard to believe Freeman has been gone almost a year. The high school senior collapsed during a track event last march, and died after going into sudden cardiac arrest.

“It's really hard. You really don't know what it's like,” Adriane Freeman told FOX 4 News.

Adriane Freeman says her son didn't show significant signs of heart trouble. In fact, she says he'd had a physical exam the day before his death on March 5th.

“You hear other people, children and problem they had when they'd passed away, but it's not the same until it happens to you, I think. It's pretty hard,” Adriane Freeman said.

Adriane says Ja'Leel’s heart rate was measured at 274 beats per minute at the time of his collapse.

This Saturday, Ray-Pec High School will offer heart exams to students. Overland Park-based Athletic Testing Solutions will administer those tests.

Ray-Pec High School Athletics and Activities Director Tom Kruse says the school will clear out its cafeteria and gym, making those tests available for a small fee.

“They'll do an EKG test,” Kruse explained. “They'll do a blood pressure test and an echocardiogram, which is kind of like a heart ultrasound.”

Kruse says it's all meant to honor Freeman's memory, while keeping others alive.

“Our entire community was affected by this. This is a way to recognize Ja'Leel and every year, to continue to do this, is a tremendous thing,” Kruse said.

The heart health screenings are open to all young people in this community ages 10-to-18. You can pre-register for Saturday’s event by clicking here.

It should be noted the American Heart Association doesn't endorse this form of screening.  That non-profit group recommends a thorough physical exam  in a doctor's office.