Family of U-46 alumna who died of cardiac arrest sponsors cardiac screening

  • Elizabeth Kunce

    Elizabeth Kunce

 
 
Updated 3/11/2016 2:59 PM

Streamwood High School hosts a cardiac screening event Thursday, sponsored by the family of Elgin High School alumna Elizabeth Kunce, who died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Kunce, a class of 1999 graduate, died suddenly of an undetected heart condition in 2003 at age 22, just months before her college graduation. Her death prompted Bartlett and Elgin high schools to offer cardiac screenings for the first time in 2012 and 2014.

 

The youngest of three sisters, Kunce grew up in Bartlett and played varsity volleyball. She was a recreational therapy major and in good health, according to family members.

The Kunce family has been trying to raise awareness ever since about the risks of undetected heart conditions through the organization, Young Hearts for Life, which has screened nearly 150,000 students nationwide in 10 years.

The screening at Streamwood High is funded in part by the Elizabeth Grace Kunce Memorial Fund, operated by the Kunce family, including Kunce's parents, Tom and Chris, and her sisters, Tracy and Lori. Advocate Sherman Hospital is a co-sponsor.

"It means a lot to bring this to the community and to help as many kids as we can," said Tracy Kunce, 39, of Palatine, Kunce's oldest sister. "Hopefully, we can prevent what happened to Beth from happening to other kids."

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After three years of fundraising through an annual golf outing in September, the family has raised $23,000 for Young Hearts for Life.

"We are raising it specifically for our community," Tracy Kunce said. "We're really excited to be bringing this program to U-46 and we hope to be able to bring it to the entire district. If it reaches one person and it's able to save one life, then it's well worth it."

Streamwood High officials said about 125 to 150 volunteers are needed to help with the screening. Volunteers must attend a training session from 5:30 to 7 p.m. or 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the school. Participation in the screenings is voluntary and parental permission is required.

Streamwood High Assistant Principal Brian Moran said he hopes at least 75 percent of the school's roughly 2,100 students take advantage of the free test.

"The screening takes only minutes, but the results could last a lifetime," Moran said.

Electrodes are attached to the student's body with a mild adhesive and produce a readout of the heart's electrical activity. The electrocardiogram can detect about 60 percent of the abnormalities from heart conditions associated with sudden cardiac death, officials said.

Students must show proof of parental approval to register for the free screening, beginning at 7 a.m. and running through 3 p.m. in the high school gymnasium. Students who register an abnormal result are encouraged to follow up with their doctors.

Another Young Hearts for Life screening is scheduled 7 a.m. April 14 at Batavia High School, 1201 Main St. For more information, visit yh4l.org or call (630) 785-4366.

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