Devastating diagnosis for college football player

For Xavier Hendrix, football was all about heart. 

“Thrived for the competition and reward out of playing those sports, I really loved it and I grew a passion for it,” said Hendrix. 

That passion kept him playing through high school and into college at Southeastern University in Lakeland. Xavier had big plans. 

“I thought I was just going to get my degree, play football and maybe make it to the next level one day.”

But the heart that got him into football would become the same heart taking him out of it. When the nonprofit Who We Play For offered free electrocardiogram screenings for athletes at Southeastern University, “I was one of two of the kids that had something come up on the screen. I had a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White,” said Hendrix. 

It’s a rare heart condition that affects one in 20,000 people. His football dreams were crushed. His condition was potentially deadly. No longer playing football, Xavier discovered a new dream: becoming a cardiologist and pushing for ECG screenings to be offered for athletes in all schools. Xavier now works with Who We Play For, the nonprofit that caught his condition.

“A lot of these conditions 80 to 90 percent, depending on the study you reference are caught by these ECG screenings,” said Who We Play For executive director Evan Ernst. 

They can screen up to several hundred athletes a day with small portable ECG’s and get results from certified cardiologists within a few days. 

The screenings are often nixed at schools because of the cost but, “We think one or two kids lives’ is probably worth it,” said Ernst.

Because everyone needs a little heart.

“Help spread awareness about this phenomena that goes on in our world and reduce the chances of it happening again.”