heart screening
The Kyle J. Taylor Foundation will screen some student athletes in the Campbell Union School District next year for heart health. (Courtesy of the Kyle J. Taylor Foundation)
music in the park san jose

A Los Gatos nonprofit started by the family of a teenager who died unexpectedly has launched a partnership with the Campbell Union High School District to test the hearts of some students.

On June 16, the District voted to require heart screenings for 9th and 11th grade athletes, a decision advocated for by the Kyle J. Taylor Foundation, which is named for an 18-year-old who died of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

he caught a fish
Taylor loved outdoors activities like fishing and surfing. (submitted)

He attended CUHSD’s Leigh High School, in San Jose, but the organization started in his memory—which now works throughout California—is headquartered in Los Gatos.

Taylor was a college freshman who enjoyed surfing and snowboarding, and cheered for the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors.

On Feb. 22, 2018 he was found unconscious by a friend and was rushed to the hospital.

He got to say “I love you mom,” two days later, before he died.

According to the American Heart Association, a heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, whereas a SCA is when the heart just stops beating all of a sudden.

Taylor’s family dedicated themselves to raising awareness about SCA, which only has a 5-10% survival rate.

The foundation awards scholarships and works to prevent SCA-caused deaths through free heart screenings and AED machine donations.

Kyle playing soccer
The school sportsman. (submitted)

The family of “Ky” (as he was known to his friends) decided working with educators could be an effective way to get the message out.

Kyle's family
Kyle Taylor’s sister Allison Taylor, mother Jennifer Sarmento and father Mike Sarmento have been working to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrests. (submitted)

After hearing from Jennifer Sarmento, Kyle’s mother, the CUHSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to incorporate heart testing into its athletics program.

“Thank you, Jennifer, for coming tonight and for all of your work on this,” Board President Kalen Gallagher said, according to a release. “I didn’t know your son, but I knew students who knew your son—and they had such amazing things to say.

“I am so impressed you’re taking this very awful situation and turning it into something so positive for so many students.”

Screening Room
Screening room. (submitted)

The foundation is now set to screen the hearts of all 9th and 11th grade CUHSD student athletes in the 2022-23 school year.

To learn more about the organization to find information about upcoming screenings, visit kylejtaylor.org.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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