PLEASANTON; Calif. -- An East Bay family is raising awareness about the importance of early detection of underlying heart conditions through their foundation, Gable Heart Beats Foundation.
With the help of family and friends, the Gable Heart Beats Foundation was founded in 2010 by a young family who lost loved one to sudden cardiac arrest. For over a decade, they have been on a mission to save lives through early detection of heart issues in youth and young adults. Recently, they are placing automated external defibrillators (AED's) to schools and sport directors.
Michael Gable was 38-years-old when he passed away from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Michael and his family did not know he had any heart issues before his death. He is remembered as a loving father and husband who loved to stay active, singing in a band, and helping others.
According to American Heart Association, sudden cardiac arrest is the number one cause of death in the country.
"Gable Heart Beats is all about what my husband would have done," said Michelle Gable, Vice President of Gable Heart Beats. "It is in honor of him because of the type of person he was, he would want to try to save lives. This was born out of the fact that we were doing what Michael would want us to do."
Two weeks after Michael's passing, his 11-month-old daughter, Grace, went into complete heart failure.
"Grace had a cough and I took her to the doctor almost every day," said Michelle Gable. "When you go through something so tragic you just want everything to be ok with everyone else. The cough continued to get worse and the final time I took her back she was rushed over to Oakland Children's hospital."
Through genetic testing, the Gable family found a dominant gene that causes hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy.
With the help of a miracle and medical treatment, Grace was able to return home and remain stable throughout her life. Now, she enjoys playing sports without any limitations and helping her family with Gable Heart Beats.
Since the beginning of the foundation, Gable Heart Beats has sponsored seven heart screenings for young children and student athletes. In conjunction with Via Heart Project and Heartfelt Screening, the foundation was able to provide free Echocardiograms and Electrocardiography (EKG) Screenings to 1,200 children.
"This allows parents to have a complete picture of their child's heart health," said Michelle Gable. "This helps detect if something might be underlying that they are unaware of."
During each heart screening, there has been an average of 2-3 kids that are recommended to see a cardiologist for further testing.
"That's the whole point, to find something before it's too late," said Michelle Gable. "A lot of times there are no signs, no symptoms before sudden cardiac arrest happens."
The Gable children have been the heart and soul of the foundation. At a young age, Matteo and Grace have helped children during heart screenings and have helped promote the work of Gable Heart Beats.
"It is a great honor to be a part of this," said Matteo Gable. "Carrying on my dad's legacy and what he stood for. I know if he survived, he would want to help other people not go through this."
During the on-going pandemic, Gable Heart Beats has pivoted from heart screenings due to social distancing to placing AED's in athletic fields and schools. The foundation partnered with North Coast Section to help distribute AED's where they are needed.
"It's been very eye opening how many AED's that these high school are in need of," said Michelle Gable. "The AED's that we are placing are going directly to their football fields and going to their athletic trainers. We have so many to fulfill. We were able to fill 25 of the requests and we have 65 requests for AED's. We are still trying to work hard to raise money to help fulfill these requests. It is important to have quite a few on campus."
The Gable family hopes their foundation will help save lives to prevent the tragedy that they have experienced.
"It is a great feeling because we want to help as many people as we can," said Grace Gable.
"If we can help prevent and detect a heart issue in a child that doesn't know that they have something, I know that we are doing the right thing," said Michelle Gable. "I know Michael would want to be helping other people to give these families a chance to be able to get that help."
For more information or to donate to the Gable Heart Beats Foundation, visit their Facebook page.