Posted by Jim Garrett
Ralph opened his presentations with an explanation of what had brought him to take on the mission of the organization, Who We Play For, and his ability to tell the heart-breaking story without faltering suggests that like Cindi Galabota’s Jerry (see meeting summary), he is a man blessed with extraordinary ability to see the positive and choose to live life fully.
Briefly, Ralph’s son, a gifted athlete, stricken by an undisclosed cardiac defect, collapsed on a Florida high school playing field in 2007 when only a sophomore, and died days later.
Who We Play For is an organization dedicated to providing cardiac screening to students by administering electro-cardio grams (EKG), which are read by volunteer cardiologists.  The tests are not administered during routine medical exams such as might be performed by a primary care physician or other health care provider.
Ralph was introduced to the organization by several of his son’s friends, who formed a group following his death they named Play for Rafe, vowing to keep his memory strong.  The group committed itself to equipping all youth sports facilities in Florida with Automatic Emergency Defibrilators, and also successfully won passage just last year of a Florida law requiring high schools to offer CPR classes.
Eventually Play for Rafe merged with Who We Play For, and after moving here in 2010, Ralph became a mainstay of the organization in Pagosa.  The organization to date has arranged for cardiac screening of 100,000 students nationally, in seven states.  72 students have been found in the screenings to have problems needing immediate attention, Ralph told us.  He recalled a girl who was found to have the same issue as his son, and remembered her thanks to him, “for saving my life.”
The Archuleta School District is now on board with the program, Ralph told us.  The first student screening was provided at Pagosa Springs High School this past January, he said.  Three students were found to have medium risk problems, triggering suggestions that they seek attention within a few months.  He said students receive one of three grades based on the screening: low risk, medium risk (about 2.5% are so graded), and high risk (about 0.5% receive this grade) which requires immediate medical attention.
A second screening was conducted at the Pagosa Springs Middle School in May, Ralph said.  The objective adopted by Who We Play For is to have all students in each new 8th grade class screened each year.  The organization covers the cost of the screening with donations for students who can’t pay the standard $20 cost.  The organization does not itself provide care, Ralph explained, but leaves no stone unturned to be sure that any high-risk student gets the care he or she needs.
Ralph said that those wishing to make donations could contact him at 970-317-0371, or