'He's smiling down on us:' Family continues heart screenings in late son's honor

The 2014 passing of Patrick Schoonover was a death that the entire state of hockey mourned together, after the 14-year-old collapsed on the ice and died from sudden cardiac arrest during a hockey game, the result of two undetected heart defects.

"We were surprised, and we were shocked," Patrick’s father Mike Schoonover told FOX 9. "We felt it was our duty to help the community figure out a way so other families didn’t have to go through what we went through."

More than half a decade later, Patrick’s name lives on. And behind it, his family is now saving lives.

"This is our 23rd Play for Patrick heart screening," Schoonover explained. "We’re going to be screening about 200 kids, boys and girls."

14-year-old Patrick Schoonover collapsed on the ice and died from sudden cardiac arrest during a hockey game in 2014, the result of two undetected heart defects. Now, his family hosts free heart screening events for youth in the community to honor hi

Every couple of months, they host a free heart screening event, checking for abnormalities in heart rhythm, structure and blood pressure. They even have physicians on site to review the results with families afterwards.

"We found kids with holes in their ventricles," Schoonover said. "We found PFOs, which are just small holes in the heart."

They’ve touched thousands of families, by screening 3,600 people in the last six years. Already, they’ve found 250 people with electrical or structural heart defects.

"He’s smiling down on us. He was a gentle giant. He looked out for others, so we feel as those he’s still doing the same thing," Schoonover said.

Patrick’s father Mike Schoonover

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Patrick’s friend Colin Tollefson credits the efforts with saving his life. At a screening in 2015, Colin discovered he had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a electrical heart defect that can cause a rapid heartbeat. Surgery has since fixed the problem. 

"I could’ve died from sudden cardiac arrest at any time," Tollefson said. "They have saved my life, saved my friend's life, saved multiple people’s lives today. It’s a great organization."

"[It] makes me feel good, makes me feel that Patrick is doing good work in protecting others," Schoonover said.

For more information about the free heart screening events and the organization, click here.