Mother encourages heart screenings after son's sudden death

LAPORTE, Ind.-- In September 2013, LaPorte High School football player Jake West suddenly died at practice from a rare heart condition.

Julie Schroeder wants every mother to know the risk is real, and now she's advocating for children to be screened at an early age.

Schroeder said, “I miss my son. I can’t even put that into words. I’m not sure how I’m going to finish the rest of my life without him, but I’m going to do everything I possibly can so another family doesn’t have to suffer that loss.”

And for Schroeder, that means raising awareness about undetected heart conditions through the Play For Jake Foundation.

“There’s not many 17-year-olds that walk into your bedroom at night to give you a hug and a kiss goodnight and Jake still did that. He was just a kind-hearted young man.”

Schroeder said she had a special bond with her son.

"He's with me all the time, and he gives me the strength to get through my days and do what I need to do for this foundation.”

Schroeder said everyone should be given the opportunity to have a heart sceening and that's why her family started the foundation.

“I want to scream this from any mountain top I can possibly get to to the top of and just spread this awareness because I was not aware of these undetected heart conditions.”

The Play for Jake Foundation is hosting its first fundraiser at Legacy Hills Golf Course on June 28th.

“In whatever we are doing let’s Play for Jake, let’s make the changes that need to be changed in the medical field and get these children screened.”

Shortly after Jake's death, his sister found out that she also has a heart condition and she underwent immediate surgery.

“After we took Courtney in to get tested we found out she has the same condition that my son had and she was an athlete all the way through high school, played volleyball for 4 years and very active as well. There was never a sign or symptom that something was wrong with her heart.”

To make a donation or learn more about heart screenings, visit

Share this article: